The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), that has ruled Gujarat for the past 22 years, is all set to extend its reign in the western state, suggests an opinion poll conducted by ABP News and Lokniti CSDS. A victory in December's Assembly election will give the saffron party a sixth straight term in office in Gujarat.
The poll suggested that while the party will clinch power with a simple majority, its victory will not be as emphatic as it was originally expected. The opinion poll gave the party between 113 and 121 seats in the 180-seat Gujarat Assembly, which is way off the 150-seat target set by national party president Amit Shah. The party had won 119 seats in the 2012 Assembly election.
The party's voteshare is also expected to drop marginally. It had won 47.9 percent of all votes cast in 2012, and this is likely to drop to 47 percent, the opinion poll said.
The principal Opposition party in Gujarat, the Congress, has been making significant ground in recent times, and with alliances and tie-ups with influential leaders like Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakore, it has looked like it could pose a significant challenge to the BJP's hopes of sixth victory. But the ABP News opinion poll gave the party just between 58 and 64 seats, which is a very marginal improvement on its 2012 performance, when the party managed 57 seats.
The Congress' voteshare, however, has increased significantly; the party had clinched 38 percent of votes in 2012, and is expected to get about 41 percent this time, the poll said.
Congress gains in Saurashtra
The Congress had invested significantly in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. Saurashtra, which sends the highest number of legislators to the Gujarat Assembly, was always expected to be the critical battleground that may ultimately decide which way the war swings. And it appears that the party's efforts have borne fruit, with Congress tying with BJP for Saurashtra's votes, both parties expected to clinch 42 percent votes, according to the ABP News opinion poll.
But the BJP will retain its grip over south and central Gujarat, it said. In south Gujarat, the BJP is expected to clinch 51 percent of the votes polled, while Congress could get only 33 percent of votes.
Previous opinion polls
The findings of these opinion polls mirror those conducted by other agencies, which had also pointed at another BJP victory. An opinion poll by Times Now-VMR suggested a resounding victory for the saffron party. It spoke to a sample size of 6,000 respondents across different demographics in different parts of Gujarat, and gave BJP between 118 and 134 seats in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly. Congress, it said, will get between 49 and 61 seats.
That was the second opinion poll in as many days to predict a victory for BJP. A day earlier, the India Today-Axis My India poll had also said BJP will win between 115 and 125 seats, while Congress will get only 57-65 seats. The findings of both surveys had projected an improved performance for BJP. The party had claimed 116 seats in the 2012 Assembly election, while Congress had claimed 60 seats. Even the more conservative poll, the India Today-Axis My India survey, would have the BJP cross that mark.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Nov 24, 2017 16:14 PM