ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Wages of Dominance?

Discontent and Disconnect

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After long deliberation and unseemly delay, the Election Commission of India has announced the dates for elections to the Gujarat assembly. Approximately a month on from now, Gujarat would be well into polling and we shall know the outcome by 18 December. Therefore, now is the time for speculations—wild, guarded, informed, biased, etc. This column would not want to contribute to the cacophony of conjectures. Nevertheless, Gujarat’s case helps us understand the predicament of electoral dominance.

For over two decades, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has dominated Gujarat beyond any doubt and without coming up against any challenge from the Congress. It was faced with two internal challenges by Shankersinh Vaghela in 1996 and Keshubhai Patel in 2012. It successfully survived both. Since 1995, the BJP has won between 116 and 121 seats out of the 182 with an average vote share of 47% as against Congress’s average of 37%. In a bipolar contest, a gap of at least (and often more than) 10% is indeed huge enough for the BJP to feel secure and confident. Given that the key figure shaping its dominance in Gujarat is currently the Prime Minister, the BJP would naturally hope to retain this comfortable position, though there is the usual risk of depletion of strength that dominant incumbents face. This time around, in spite of the fundamentally bipolar contest, various third players such as Vaghela and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) might further complicate the picture and it is anybody’s guess whether these new players would eat into the BJP’s votes or those of the Congress.

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Updated On : 13th Nov, 2017

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