The Congress in the Gujarat Assembly polls hopes to ride on the disturbed electoral chemistry of depressed cotton and groundnut prices, difficulties in GST rollout and resentment among Patidars but the victory margin from 2012 elections suggests that the party has an uphill arithmetic to circumvent to dislodge the BJP from its perch.
An analysis of 2012 victory margins of BJP and Congress reveal that the incumbents have a much bigger cushion in the form of higher victory margins than their counterparts in the rival Congress. In fact, the BJP’s average victory margins were almost double the victory margins of Congress during 2012 Assembly elections in the state.
While the BJP won 115 seats (in a House of 182) with an average margin of 26,236 votes, the Congress’s average victory margin stood at 13,577 votes across the 61 seats it won in 2012.
There was also a rural-urban skew in the pattern of victory.
While Congress won 55 of its 61 seats (almost 90 per cent) from rural areas, the BJP won 63 (about 55 per cent) of its seats from rural areas. There were about 124 seats where the rural population constituted more than half of the population.
In rural areas, where BJP and Congress appeared to have competed more equally winning 63 and 55 seats respectively, the BJP had marginally a better average victory margin as compared to that of Congress. While the BJP’s average victory margin in rural seats stood at about 16,688 votes, the Congress’s victory margin was only slightly behind at about 14,456 votes.
However, their victory margins diverge massively in urban areas where BJP virtually swept the elections. Of about 58 urban seats (where urban section constituted over 50 per cent of population), the BJP won 52 while the Congress could win only six.
The BJP’s margin in these urban victories on an average stood at 37,805 votes as against the paltry 5,513-vote margin secured by Congress in urban areas.
For the incumbent BJP, which is staring at 22 years of anti-incumbency, the comparatively better average victory margins than Congress could be a relatively bigger cushion for the party to absorb electoral shocks as compared to its rival Congress in its currently held seats.
The ruling party enjoys relatively bigger cushion in the urban areas to face off the discontent emanating from the rollout of the GST that has riled the business community in urban areas. In contrast, the BJP has a slightly reduced cushion in rural areas where the depressed commodity prices have angered peasant communities.
Put alternatively, the Congress, which is sliding on a relatively thin cushion of victory margin on its seats, has a bigger arithmetic challenge to dislodge the BJP in urban seats as compared to rural seats where BJP’s victory margins are comparable to that of itself.
Depressed cotton and groundnut prices have been one of the issues fuelling the Patidar agitation in rural areas while GST has been made an electoral issue by Congress in urban areas.