Cong catching up with BJP, in slow motion

Since 2002, gap between their vote shares has been shrinking.

While the BJP has won Gujarat for the fifth consecutive term, the gap between its vote share and that of the Congress has slowly been shrinking, except in 1998 when both Assembly and Lok Sabha polls were held together, and in 2002, when the state voted under the Hinduvta wave in the aftermath of post-Godhra riots.

In the just-concluded elections, BJP's vote share was 47.9 per cent against Congress's 38.9, the difference being 9 per cent. Compared to 2007, the difference is down by 0.49 per cent. In 2007, BJP's vote share was 49.12 per cent against 39.63 per cent of Congress, the gap being 9.49 per cent.

The erosion in the vote shares of both the parties this time could be attributed to the four-month-old Gujarat Parivatan Party led by Keshubhai Patel, which has cornered 3.6 per cent of votes.

So far, the highest difference in the vote shares of the BJP and the Congress was 10.4 per cent in 2002. BJP's vote share then stood at 49.85 per cent, its highest ever during its 17-year rule in Gujarat.

When the saffron party came to power in Gujarat for the first time in 1995 under the leadership of Keshubhai Patel, it polled 42.45 per cent of the total votes cast, which was 9.46 per cent more than the Congress.

The figure increased to 44.81 per cent in 1998, when both Assembly and Lok Sabha elections were held together.

In 2002, however, BJP's vote share saw a dramatic jump, to 49.85 per cent. The polarisation was also reflected in the vote share of Congress, which increased to 39.45 per cent. Since 2002, BJP's vote share has been steadily falling. Congress's vote share increased in 2007, but dropped again in 2012.

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