Mumbai: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) scratchy win in Gujarat has much to do with its dominance in the urban parts of the state.
The results suggest the BJP has improved upon its 2012 performance in central Gujarat, which largely accounts for the urban constituencies. On the contrary, a majority of the gains the Congress has made seem to be coming from the rural parts.
Of the 55 urban constituencies in central Gujarat spread over Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, and Rajkot, the BJP has won 44 seats, four less than its tally in 2012. The Congress has won the remaining 11 seats, four more than in 2012. Of the 127 semi-urban and rural seats, the Congress has won 68 seats and the BJP 55.
Senior BJP leader and Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told television news channel Times Now that the BJP had “swept urban Gujarat” and admitted to some “gap” in the rural parts. The results show that the BJP beat the Congress in all regions of Gujarat except the Kutch-Saurashtra region, which accounts for 54 seats, while the jump in the Congress and its allies’ tally from 61 seats in 2012 to 80 seems largely propelled by their impressive show in rural parts.
A Mumbai BJP leader, who was part of the party’s Gujarat team that was tasked with the 16 seats in the Surat region of which the BJP won in 15, told Mint that the Modi government had addressed the concerns of the BJP’s urban support base just two months before polling.
“There was some resentment over demonetisation and the goods and services tax (GST), especially among small traders. But the Union government moved swiftly two months back and announced several relief measures and changes in the GST structure. Also, the urban and the semi-urban voter in Gujarat is by and large happy with the BJP governance in Gujarat,” the BJP leader said, requesting anonymity.
He admitted that the Congress had made impressive gains in the rural parts due to “caste combinations, Patel resentment, and farm distress”. “But the Congress has always been stronger in rural Gujarat. In previous elections too, a majority of Congress seats came from rural constituencies,” he said.
But the narrative of the BJP being the dominant player in urban parts and the Congress claiming the rural hinterlands has not played out so neatly this time.
While the BJP has dominated urban areas, the Congress has also made some gains. For instance, the Congress tally in Ahmedabad region has gone up from 2 in 2012 to 6 now. It won zero seats in Vadodara in 2012 but has got two in this election.