An incisive analysis of Gujarat Elections, 2012-III
Dr JK Bajaj
Panchmahals-Dahod (BJP 6, INC 7). These two districts, as also Vadodara further south, adjoin the Bhil dominated districts of Jhabua and Alirajpur in Madhya Pradesh. All of Dahod and eastern parts of Panchmahals are dominated by Bhils. In the Census of 2001, Scheduled Tribes had a share of 72 per cent in the population of Dahod and 27 per cent of Panchmahals. Of the total 13 seats in the region, 7 are reserved for STs. The region is largely rural, with an urbanisation ratio of less than 12 per cent.
In 2007, BJP had won 5 seats, INC 7 and NCP 1. In the current elections, the BJP has improved its tally to 6 and INC has won the remaining 7. Thus, INC remains ahead of BJP in this sub-region in terms of seats won. In terms of the share of votes, however, BJP is ahead of INC. BJP has got 43.9 per cent of the total votes polled in the two districts, while INC share is 40.2 per cent. GPP and NCP have got 4 and 1.8 per cent, respectively. INC has won Lunawada of Panchmahals by a margin of 3,701 votes; the GPP tally of 4,429 in this constituency has proved decisive. Margin of defeat for the BJP is low at 2,868 votes in Godhra also, but there GPP has got only 591 votes. These are the only two general seats that INC has won in this sub-region; the other 5 are ST seats. Scheduled Tribes remain the mainstay of INC in this region. BJP has been able to win only 2 of the 7 ST seats here. This is better than its performance in 2007, when it had won only one of the 5 seats reserved for STs.
Vadodara-Bharuch-Narmada (BJP 16, INC 2, Others 2)
This region also has a considerable presence of the Scheduled Tribes; ST share in the population of these three districts together is about one-third. In Narmada district, STs comprise 78 per cent of the population. Of the 20 seats in this sub-region, 6 are reserved for STs, including both seats of Narmada, 1 of Bharuch and 3 of Vadodara. Urbanisation ratio of the sub-region as a whole is almost equal to the state average of 42 per cent; it is certainly not as highly urbanised as Gandhinagar-Ahmedabad region. Even Vadodara district has an urbanisation of just about 50 per cent. Narmada is only about 10 per cent urban.
This region, with one-third share of STs and moderate level of urbanisation, has voted overwhelmingly for the BJP. Of the 20 seats in the region, BJP has won 16 and INC 2. Of the remaining 2 seats, Savli of Vadodara, has been won by an Independent; the seat was won by the same independent candidate in 2007 also. Jhagadia of Bharuch has gone to JDU; this seat was won for JDU by the same candidate in 2007.
BJP has considerably improved its performance in this sub-region since 2007, when it had won only 10 of the 20 seats; INC had won 8 seats then. The BJP has thus registered a gain of 6 seats in this sub-region.
Both the seats that INC has won are ST seats, Chhota Udaipur and Sankheda of Vadodara; both have been won with narrow margins of 2,305 and 1,452, respectively. And, on both seats, the tally of GPP, though small, is yet bigger than the margin of defeat for the BJP. If it were not for the GPP, INC would have won none of the 20 seats in this sub-region.
BJP has won 3 of the ST seats, INC has won 2 and the sixth seat has been won by JDU. Of the total votes polled in the sub-region, BJP has got 49.1 per cent and INC 37.4 per cent. JDU has got another 3.4 per cent. GPP has got only 1.2 per cent of the votes.
South Gujarat (BJP 22, INC 6)
The region comprises Surat, Tapi, the Dangs, Navsari and Valsad districts. These districts border on the east with the Scheduled Tribes dominated parts of Nandurbar, Dhule, Nashik and Thane districts of Maharashtra. The region has a considerable presence of the Scheduled Tribes; according to the count of 2001, they formed nearly 38 per cent of the population. Of 28 seats in the district, 11 are reserved for STs Urban ratio for the whole region is high at 59 per cent. For the relatively smaller districts of Tapi and the Dangs, urban ratio is low at 10 and 11 per cent, respectively. Navsari and Valsad have moderate urban ratios of 31 and 37 per cent. It is Surat, with urban ratio of nearly 80 per cent that raises the ratio of the region to its high level. This whole region, but especially Surat district, has voted overwhelmingly in favour of BJP. The region has gained 6 seats after delimitation; these additional seats are all in Surat district, and the gain has gone to the account of BJP. In 2007, BJP had won 15 seats and the INC 7. In 2012, BJP has won 22 and the tally of INC is reduced to 6.
Of the total votes polled in the region, BJP has obtained 52.8 and INC 37.6 per cent. GPP has obtained 2.9 per cent of the vote; it has garnered considerable votes in several seats of Surat city and its immediate neighbourhood, and in a couple of seats of Navsari. JDU has obtained 1 per cent of the votes polled, but it has got considerable votes in Mandvi of Surat, Nizar of Tapi, Dharampur of Valsad and the Dangs. Victory margins in this region have been generally high, and the presence of GPP and JDU does not seem to have affected the outcome, except in the Dangs. INC has won the Dangs by only 2,422 votes. In this district, kindred organisations of BJP had put in great effort to counter the rapid conversion of tribal people to Christianity.
While BJP has done well in the whole of South Gujarat, its showing has been spectacular in Surat. Of the 16 seats in the district, BJP has won 15. INC has won only the ST seat of Mandvi. In 2007, INC had won 3 of the 10 seats in the district. Of the total votes polled in Surat, BJP has got 57.2, INC 33.3 and GPP 4.2 per cent.
All the 6 seats that INC has won in South Gujarat are reserved for Scheduled Tribes; BJP has won the remaining 5 ST seats. The Dangs, as we have said, has been won by INC with a very narrow margin.
Suarashtra (BJP 30, INC 15, Others 3)
The region comprises the south-western districts of Surendranagar, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Porbandar, Junagarh, Amreli and Bhavnagar. It had 52 seats in 2007, of which BJP won 38, INC 13 and NCP 1. After delimitation, the number of seats in the region has come down to 49. Of these, BJP has won only 30; INC has won 15, GPP 2 and NCP 1.
The BJP has thus suffered a loss of 8 seats. After North Gujarat, this is the only other region, where BJP has done poorly as compared to 2007.
The impact of GPP has not been uniform across all districts of Saurashtra. GPP has not only won its own 2 seats, it has clearly contributed to the victory of INC in Manavadar and Talala of Junagarh and Lathi of Amreli. In these 3 constituencies, the wafer-thin margins of INC are much smaller than the considerable votes polled by GPP. Una of Junagarh has been won by INC with 7507 votes, while GPP has got 6441 votes. Margin of victory for the INC is low at only 2096 votes in Somnath also, where an Independent has got more than 20 thousand votes. Dhari of Amreli, one of the 2 seats won by GPP, has also been decided by a narrow margin of 1575 votes.
In the current elections, the BJP has lost 10 seat in North Gujarat and 8 in Saurashtra compared to its tally of 2007. These losses have been partly made up by the gain of 9 seats in Central Gujarat and 7 in South Gujarat; thus restricting the loss to only 2 seats.
The gains for the BJP have come almost entirely from the urban stretches of Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat. The losses in Saurashtra are almost entirely because of the rebellion of GPP. The losses in North Gujarat, where the BJP had done extremely well in 2007, are also probably because of the less than enthusiastic support of some of the ideologically kindred organisations and workers. BJP has lost many seats with thin margins; even minor losses suffered through the dissensions have therefore proved decisive on these seats.
In the absence of these dissensions, the victory of BJP would have been even more spectacular. Contrarily, in the absence of strong support of the urban areas, the victory would have been anaemic, if not problematic.
This does not mean that the BJP support is limited only to urban areas. The party has won 10 of the 27 seats reserved for STs, but none of these is from North Gujarat. The party has also won 10 of the 13 seats reserved for SCs. BJP clearly needs to deepen its base among the Scheduled Tribes, especially in the Scheduled Tribes dominated areas of North Gujarat and in Dahod region of Central Gujarat. But more than anything else, BJP needs to carry along all of the ideologically kindred groups, workers and organisations. This would require, besides internal adjustments, expanding the platform of the party beyond the issues of development and governance. These issues indeed have a strong appeal for the newly emerging urban classes, but do not carry the same salience for the relatively poorer people from the Scheduled Tribes and others.
They need to be convinced of compassion and concern for their situation. Any successful politics shall have to necessarily encompass the concerns of both the traditional rural and the emerging urban people of India. Because, whatever the levels of development, rural areas and the rural people of India are not likely to be ever submerged in the expanding urban landscape.
In any case, the emerging urban classes of Gujarat, and perhaps in much of the urban India of small towns and cities outside a few metropolises, are not the vaunted “aspirational” classes cut-off from their culture and rural roots. The issues of culture and compassion remain important for them. Their overwhelming vote in favour of BJP in Gujarat has obviously been influenced by the strong sub-text of cultural, regional and national assertion that is associated with the charisma of Narendra Modi.
Adding compassion and concern for the relatively less-provided to this potent appeal would also bring in the regions that have remained unimpressed so far.