Gujarat elections 2017: Despite rural collapse, urban whitewash put BJP back in power

BJP's strike rate in urban districts was 97.14 percent, and only 27.68 percent in the rural seats

Gujarat elections 2017: Despite rural collapse, urban whitewash put BJP back in power
Narendra Modi and Amit Shah at the BJP head office in New Delhi after the results were announced for the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections.

NEW DELHI: The BJP beat anti-incumbency to win the assembly election in Gujarat for the sixth consecutive time. But the party seems to have gotten by primarily because of the state's urban centres, where it won more than two-thirds of its total seat tally.

In the districts that hold the five largest urban areas, the BJP won a mind-boggling 68 out of 70 seats, a strike rate of 97.14 percent. Put in the context of the 182-seat Gujarat Assembly, that is 37.36 percent.

But here is how Gujarat's urban centres powered the BJP back into government - the 68 seats the BJP won in these places account for a whopping 68.69 percent of its entire tally.

Of the 70 seats in the districts of Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot and Bhavnagar, the BJP only lost one seat each in Gandhinagar and Surat.

The adjoining districts of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar returned 25 out of 26 seats to the BJP. The only seat here that didn't go to the ruling party was Dehgam in Gandhinagar District.

The only other urban seat that the BJP did not win was Katargam in Surat District. Vadodara (13 seats), Rajkot (8 seats) and Bhavnagar (7 seats) all voted unanimously for the BJP. 

In the other 112 seats that are in rural or semi-rural districts, the BJP only won 31 seats. That's a mere 27.68 seats.

To put that in perspective, the Congress won only 2.86 percent of the urban seats, but romped home in 69.64 percent of the rural seats.

These numbers hold a clear truth. The BJP's rise in vote share by 1.25 percentage points was solely because of the huge margins of victory in the urban seats.

This could hold repercussions for the BJP in coming elections in predominantly rural states like Madhya Pradesh or Chhattisgarh, which go to the polls in 2018. 

he clear urban-rural divide in the results of the Gujarat elections are a reflection of the discontent that the BJP has had to face from various community groups, from the Patidars, Dalits and OBCs to farming and agrarian communities.

It does however underline the resilience of its messaging to urban voters, who have affirmed their lack of confidence in the Congress to take care of their needs. This is perhaps no clearer in Surat, which witnessed huge protests against the rollout of GST.

But neither of the possible economic pain points - GST or demonetisation - seemed hurtful enough to hand defeats to the BJP in the urban areas, which are home to concentrations of Gujarat's powerful business communities.