Modi in Saurashtra and Kutch, which has the largest chunk of 58 seats in the Gujarat Assembly.
Saurashtra, therefore, holds the key to whether Modi does better than last time or much worse. Saurashtra has been a bit of a puzzle even for psephologists. For instance, well-known psephologist Yogendra Yadav, now a member of Arvind Kejriwal’s party, had predicted a wave against Modi in Saurashtra in 2007. After the results came out, Yadav admitted, in a newspaper article, that he had predicted the wave alright but did not know it was going Modi’s way!
Indeed, one cannot be quite sure how Saurashtra behaves this time. In 2007, Modi managed to muster 43 of the 58 seats. He may fall from this peak but how much is difficult to predict. If the narrative that the much higher voting in Saurashtra constitutes an anti-incumbency wave is to be believed, Narendra Modi may receive a setback. However, Modi may well make it up by getting higher number of seats in the rest of Gujarat where he is stronger.
A senior central BJP leader argued that Modi, probably realising that there will be some anti-incumbency caused by two terms, has tried to convert the election into a referendum on himself, especially considering there is no visible leader on the other side. The Congress, seeing that it has no visible leader, has focused its campaign on development failures – bijli, sadak, paani – at the constituency level in the rural areas. And the third factor, Keshubhai Patel, is simply playing the caste card. How this complex play will translate in electoral terms is anybody’s guess, until 20 December when the results will be out.