With polling in the world's largest democracy coming to an end on Sunday with the conclusion of the seventh and final round of voting in the general elections, 1.3 billion citizens of India including an estimated 900 million-strong electorate now await vote-counting on May 23 when the identities of 542 (the Vellore polls were countermanded) newly elected members to the lower house of India's Parliament will be revealed, and consequently, the process of forming the next government of India will enter its final stage. Ahead of what promises to be a thrilling May 23, Republic Media Network has broadcast the country's biggest exit poll - the double exit poll in collaboration with the nation's biggest pollsters Jan Ki Baat and CVoter - which presents a projection of what to expect on counting day, including granular projections from each of the states and union territories.
In Gujarat, the home state of the Prime Minister and a stronghold of the BJP, the battle is set between the NDA alliance and the UPA alliance for the 28 Lok Sabha seats up for grabs which polled in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections on April 23.
In terms of seats, the NDA is predicted to win 22 seats, while the UPA is predicted to win in 4 seats.
NDA: 22 seats
UPA: 4 seats
The NDA is projected to lead the pack garnering 59.3% of the votes. The UPA is projected to trail closely with 37.4% of the votes, while other parties are projected to garner 3.3% of the votes.
In terms of seats, the NDA is projected to win 22-23 seats, while the UPA is projected to win in 3-4 seats.
NDA: 22-23 seats
UPA: 3-4 seats
In the 2014 General elections, Gujarat had a voter turnout of 63.6% in all phases in which all 26 seats were won by the NDA, while the UPA won none.
The last two Assembly elections (182 seats) are seen to follow a decreasing trend for the NDA as it decreased its win from 115 to 99 seats during 2017. While the voter turnout had decreased marginally in 2017 from 72.5% to 69.2%, the UPA increased its foothold as it increased its seat share from 61 seats to 77 seats in 2017 as post-demonetisation and GST effect.
In 2019, Gujarat has witnessed an average voter turnout of 64.11% in its single poll phases.
Key battles in Gujarat:
The main battle in Gujarat is centred in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat
Surendranagar: This Koli-dominated area will see a high stake battle between Congress' Somabhai Patel and BJP's Dr. Munjapara Mahendrabhai. Congress is confident to repeat its 2017 Assembly success as acute agrarian crisis due to lower minimum support price for farm produce, non-payment of crop insurance, unemployment and water shortage owing to poor rain still continue to plague the region trouble the state government.
Junagadh: This region will see the battle between Koli candidates - BJP's Chudasama Rajeshbhai Naranbhai who is the sitting MP and the Leader of Opposition - Congress' Vansh Punjabhai Bhimabhai.
Amreli: A part of the Patidar aggression, this region will witness the battle between Patidar candidates- BJP's Kachhadiya Naranbhai Bhikhabhai and the Congress' Paresh Dhanani. While the mercantile community has traditionally voted BJP, the Patidar aggression and demonetisation have plagued this region shifting its vote towards the Congress.
Porbandar: Another Patidar dominated area will see the battle between BJP's Rameshbhai Lavjibhai Dhaduk and the Congress' Lalit Vasoya both of the local community.
Recent political developments:
While 2017 saw a shift in the voting trend towards the Congress in the Assembly elections due to the demonetisation and GST implementation, the state witnessed a massive shift in loyalties when the face of the Patidar aggression- Hardik Patel joined the Congress putting the 3-year-long speculation over his political affiliation to rest.
After he joined the grand old party, his own poll plans were scuppered after the Gujarat High Court refused to stay his conviction in a 2015 rioting case rendering him ineligible. He has subsequently been campaigning for his party and has been condemning the Prime Minister for skirting the real issues and recently calling him a 'Yamraj sitting in Delhi'. He had also been publically slapped in a public rally.
Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi too stirred controversy when he commented: "how come all thieves have Modi as common surname" after which the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Surat summoned him in response a defamation suit filed by BJP legislator Purnesh Modi.
In other news, Rahul Gandhi ally and independent MLA from Vadgam, Jignesh Mewani who was the face of the 2016 Dalit aggression had fearmongered over the 10% reservation for the Economically Weaker Sections saying it was an RSS-BJP conspiracy against caste reservation. He has also publically campaigned for the AAP in New Delhi.
On a national scale:
The 2019 elections saw high-octane electric campaigning from both sides as the BJP went hammer and tongs, expressing confidence at each turn that it would not only repeat but also better its tally of 282 votes from five years earlier, whereas the Congress and other Opposition parties, also campaigned heavily though without being able to make any convincing show of unity. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking a second term in the Parliament, addressed a total of 144 rallies and roadshows this election season, Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressed 125 rallies in the 2019 polls.
A number of Republic Media Network newsbreaks especially set the agenda for the polls, including the first interview of the Prime Minister's election campaign to Republic's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and his final campaign interview to Executive Editor Abhishek Kapoor. Alongside these were the sensational #MPsOnSale sting on sitting MPs who showed themselves willing to compromise the interests of those whom they claim to represent, the Operation Karz Maafi sting that exposed the falsehood in the Congress' farm loan-waiver promise, and numerous others.
The vote counting for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls will be held on May 23. Join Arnab on Republic Media Network for non-stop coverage of the sensational conclusion to the general elections here.