Almost all aspects of the poll show that the BJP has every cause to be anxious in Gujarat - something that seems closer to reality considering that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah's campaign rallies in their home state have now been marked not by massive crowds but by a huge number of empty chairs.
An opinion poll has the Congress tied with the BJP in vote percentage in Gujarat while trailing slightly in projected seats tally.
While this discontent may lead to a stiffer challenge for the BJP, it may not be enough to bring an end to BJP's long rule in Gujarat, an analysis of the past election trends and the pre-poll survey findings suggest.
On the rise of caste politics in the state, where the BJP has been highlighting its model of development, Gaurang Jani, a sociologist, said it was because the issues faced by these groups had not been properly addressed. Congress aspires to break the ruling party's winning spree by wooing the Patidar community. Ahead of the campaigning, during a high-level meeting attended by Rahul Gandhi and Gujarat Congress in charge Ashok Gehlot, it was decided that the BJP would not be allowed the luxury of running away with the Hindutva narrative. In 2012, the BJP had won 32 seats (50% vote share) whereas, the Congress had won 21 seats (40% vote share). Even a slight swing of four to five per cent could be a game-changer for the Congress, say political analysts. The opinion poll suggests that the Congress, riding high on an anti-incumbency wave coupled with the support of Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mewani and Alpesh Thakore, is looking at its best ever performance in Gujarat since 1995, when the BJP romped to power in the state and has remained undefeated ever since.
In Shekhawati betting market, the situation for BJP appears to be worse as only 99-101 seats are predicted and the Congress is expected to get 82-85.
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The only fear or the one sector that the Congress should be anxious about is that its workers are not as dedicated as the BJP cadres.
"The Gujarat voters have already made a decision to vote BJP government out, largely because the so-called "Gujarat Model" was a fictitious and fraudulent spin which today stands totally exposed".
Another major factor that will decide the fate of Congress in Gujarat is the changes that the party has made in its campaigning policies. Also, recently before the Gujarat elections, the Congress chose Rahul Gandhi as the new President of the party. This is because Gujarat has become a question of honor for Modi and Amit Shah because they both are from this state. While the Congress is elated to see the new caste dynamics coming to its rescue, the BJP still believes that no one is leaving its ship.
Gujarat is slated to go to polls in two phases - on December 9 and 14. The counting of votes would take place on December 18 and the results announced the same day.
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