As electioneering intensifies in Gujarat, the question being asked is whether the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be able to hold on to its votes or will the Congress make a dent in the saffron party’s support base. Presently it’s hard to find the answer to this but, political scenario in the state from 1995 notifies that BJP has consistently gathered more than 40% of the popular vote. BJP has continued to maintain its winning streak in the state and has also occupied around 115 seats out of 182 in the state from 1995.
The BJP came to the power in the state in 1995 by winning 121 seats and 42.51% of the popular vote. In the next election in 1998 (it was a mid-term election after internal troubles in the BJP led to a full-blown crisis and a government in the interim by a breakaway faction led by Shankar Sinh Vaghela), the BJP won 117 seats with a vote share of 44.81%. The vote percentage of the BJP jumped to 49.85% in the December 2002 elections after the Gujarat riots and the party notched its best-ever tally of 127 seats. The popular vote garnered by the BJP was maintained by the saffron party in 2007 at 49.12% but this translated into a smaller number of seats (117). In 2012, the last elections, the BJP secured 47.85% of the votes and won 115 seats. Thus, after the riots, the BJP’s vote share went up by 5%. But in 2012, this vote share reduced by 2% from the highest in 2002.
In terms of popular vote, the Congress party has also performed fairly well since 1995. Consistently, the party has secured more than 30% of the popular vote. In 1995, the Congress won 45 seats (out of 182) and polled 32.86% of the votes. Three years later, in 1998, the party polled a higher percentage of votes (34.85%) and more seats (53) than the previous election. After the riots of 2002, the Congress’ vote share went up further – to 39.59% – and the party secured 51 seats. In 2007, Congress polled 38% of the popular votes and secured 59 seats. In 2012, the Congress won 61 seats and polled 38.93% of the votes.
BJP, however in 1990 had a vote share of around 26.69% and it rose to 42.51% in 1995. How did this happen? Or what were the facts that improved BJP vote supporters?
Firstly, the BJP’s Ayodhya movement took deep roots in Gujarat and augmented its vote base. Secondly, the support of Patels also strengthened the party support. The third factor can be termed as a major factor for the Party at that time.The decimation of Janata Dal which was an important party of that time both in the centre and in the state. The votes of Janta Dal split and most of them went to the BJP, although some of it must have also benefitted the Congress.
Well, we have seen that BJP has maintained their voting percent in the recent years but, the main question is what percentage of the popular vote will the BJP get in the forthcoming polls? Let’s wait and find the answer to this question after the result.