The two-phase Gujarat polling would take place on December 9 and 14 for the 182 member state assembly. While the first opinion poll done by the Lokniti-CSDS-ABP News had predicted a vote-share of 29 per cent for the Congress against 59 per cent for the BJP, the second poll showed the Congress moving towards a 41 per cent vote share while the BJP's share plummeting to 47 per cent. Following the strategy planned to clean the anti-Hindutva image of the Congress, the party managed to form alliances with different castes and communities, being successful to a limit in eroding the traditional vote bank of BJP.
The survey opined that economic hardships faced by the voters is a major reason behind the Congress' rise and also a major reason for the Patidars' support to the Congress besides Hardik Patel's call to defeat the BJP over their unmet demand for reservation. Following the elections, Congress suffered successive jolts as its MLAs deserted the party from time to time, leaving its total tally in the current Gujarat Assembly to 43 legislators.
The BJP's election managers, however, dismissed suggestions that the support of caste leaders would lead to a turnaround in the Congress's fortunes.
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In central Gujarat, Congress is predicted to get 38 per cent votes against the BJP's 54 per cent while in north Gujarat, the Congress is expected to fetch 49 per cent of votes while the BJP could be limited at 44 per cent. "We also have our own committed Patidar support which will not move away from the BJP".
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The poll suggests that different age groups would prefer to vote for different parties in the ensuing poll.
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Modi, while not letting go of the BJP's development plank, which yielded rich electoral dividend for the party in the past, was bitterly critical of the dynastic politics of the Congress during his agressive campaign.
"The Gujarat voters have already chose to vote BJP government out, largely because the so-called "Gujarat Model" was a fictitious and fraudulent spin which today stands totally exposed". And in Kutch, as per the survey, the BJP is likely to get 27-31 seats and the Congress 23-27 seats.
In the 2012 polls, the BJP won 115 seats, while Congress could secure 61. "The series of CSDS polls are as wide off the mark in Gujarat as they were in Uttar Pradesh", BJP Spokesman G.V.L. Narasimha Rao told IANS. In 2012, the BJP and the Congress had gained 45% and 37% vote share.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah may be crying hoarse claiming that their party was once again on way to victory - winning 150 seats - in their home state of Gujarat, but if the latest Lokniti-CSDS-ABP News opinion poll on the Gujarat Assembly polls is anything to go by, then the Congress is fast gaining political ground in the western state.