SAURASHTRA PROJECTION: BJP 20, Cong 10, 16 too close
Rediff editors on the field speak with experts, common people, media personalities and others to project how the election will go in Saurashtra which voted on Thursday.
From Saurashra's 48 assembly seats in seven districts, 514 candidates are seeking 90 lakh votes. The Bhartiya Janata Party and Congress are frontrunners while the newly-born Gujarat Parivartan party is 'vote katwa' party. As Saurashtra's political atmosphere has taken turn on basis of caste, rediff.com talked to Kirit Ganatra, Kaushik Mehta, Kana Bantwa, Dilip Gohil , Mahesh Langa and many other veteran and young media personalities belonging to the region and scores of BJP, GPP and Congress candidates to assess the mood of the people of Saurashtra.
The election has become difficult for the BJP due to issue of water creating anti-incumbency and Leuva Patels has become vocal and threatening to desert the party. Congress has played its cards reasonably well by keeping silent and hoping and plotting that the GPP cuts into the BJP votes. It's a gamble even the Congress is not sure will pay off or not. The Congress has ensured that the GPP candidates are harmonised with Congress's caste calculations. Particularly, Ahir, Kolis and Kashtriyas have been given tickets strategically as a third choice. Even if the GPP, as expected will not get two-digit seats, it will play the role of 'independent' candidates in many seats, who can't be ignored because most constituencies have just around 2 lakh votes.
The BJP was expected to do badly in 2007 as well but did spectacularly well due to young voters and women of all ages voting in Narendra Modi's favour. Modi has more reasons to turn to them, once more, for favours to save his prestige.
Rediff.com's assessment is that Saurashtra region gives the BJP a clear win in only on 20 seats out of 48 factoring in delimitation of constituencies. Congress is clearly winning 10 seats while GPP will get 2 seats for sure. In rest of the 16 seats, BJP is in trouble or will have to face tough fight and in some last-minute trends could decide its fate. Last time it had won 38 seats out of 52 seats but it's unlikely to repeat the performance.
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Image: A voter stands in a queue to cast her ballot in the first phase of Gujarat elections
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters