Resurgent Congress narrowed the vote lead BJP had been enjoying over it for successive elections by adding 1,59,413 more voters than its rival between 2012 and 2017 elections. In the previous elections, BJP had been widening the vote lead over Congress.In urban areas, which is a stronghold of BJP, it added lesser votes than BJP but added seats to its tally. According to political analysts, if the trend continues in upcoming polls, the contest would be more even.In 2002, BJP added 28,93,527 votes as compared to Congress’ 23,55,718. Similarly, it added 5,45,619 votes in 2007 and 23,79,607 votes 2012. Congress added 2,69,274 votes in 2007 and 23,65,227 votes in 2012. Throughout this period, BJP widened the lead by 5,37,809 votes, 2,69,274 votes and 14,380 votes over Congress. However, things turned around in 2017. BJP added 16,04,848 votes compared to Congress 17,64,261 and the lead shrunk by 1,59,413 votes for BJP. It was this key reason why Congress raised its tally from 61 in 2012 to 77 in 2017. Votes added by Congress’ allies Bharatiya Tribal Party and Independent candidate Jignesh Mevani, the lead would further shrink. BTP bagged 2,22,694 votes, while Mevani got 95,497 votes all of which are in rural areas.Congress was definitely a winner in rural areas and it was here that it witnessed the majority of voter addition. Congress added 13,06,795 votes in villages compared to 10,53,781 votes by BJP. Of the 77 seats, it won in recent elections, 71 were in villages and small cities and towns.”Results are a clear indication that agenda is very different for rural and urban voters. Rural voters voted on the issues that affect their day-to-day lives and Congress was a clear winner here. Villages are suffering from agrarian distress and people here voted for Congress. It also indicates that Congress has a better organisation in rural areas compared to urban areas,” said Amit Dholakiya, a Professor of Political Science at M S University in Vadodara.On the other hand, Congress added fewer votes compared to BJP in cities. Congress added 4,57,467 since 2012, while BJP added 5,51,067 votes in the corresponding period. In spite of this, Congress added two seats in these areas.Congress wrested seats of Bapunagar and Jamalpur-Khadia seats in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar – North and Junagadh from BJP, but lost Rajkot-East and Jamnagar-North to the rival.This indicates that Congress suffers from a severe bottleneck of dysfunctional organisation and party cadre compared to its rival in cities, a fact that even party acknowledge. “The party structure is not so strong in cities. That is the reason why we were not able to convince the voters in spite the fact that our manifesto was far more people friendly. We had announced unemployment allowances, housing for women, free education for girl child, affordable healthcare and education services. But we could not connect to the voters,” said Gadhvi.Dholakiya also said that unlike rural votes, who voted on rational consideration, urban voters were driven by poll propaganda and rhetoric.
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