The Congress, which recorded its worst-ever tally in the just concluded Gujarat Assembly Elections, has suffered more than just electoral damages. Besides the Congress’ rout, the grand old party also appears to have lost the perception battle to the AAP and the Hyderabad-headquartered AIMIM. The minority vote bank is considered as a key to Congress’ political strategy.
In Gujarat, since 2002, while the BJP consolidated the Hindu votes irrespective of the caste calculations, the Congress made all efforts to secure the votes of the minority community.
Experts say that the Congress had a winning formula for Gujarat. The KHAM plan or focussing on Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslim votes helped the party in getting a good tally, if not the majority, in Assembly polls in Gujarat.
However, this completely changed in this year’s elections. The ‘silent campaign’ of the Congress didn’t create any buzz. To add to the misery of the party, people saw the Aam Aadmi Party as its alternative. A large number of Muslim voters switched to the AAP and the loyalties have changed sides, political commentator Hemant Shah was quoted as saying by PTI.
Another analyst Dilip Gohil also said similar things. According to Gohil, those voters of Gujarat who wanted a replacement of Congress have found a candidate in the AAP. Even though the Congress may have got the distant second position in Gujarat, the diminished tally and losses in key Muslim-dominated constituencies mean that the Congress has lost more than the vote share.
The Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM may not have won any seat in Gujarat but it caused splitting of votes of the Congress that actually helped the BJP. Here are 5 main battles that show how the Congress lots the perception battle in Gujarat:
1: Dariapur: Known as the Congress stronghold, Gyasuddin Shaikh, sitting MLA of the party, was defeated by BJP’s Kaushik Jain by 5,243 votes. While Jain got 61,090 votes, Shaikh bagged 55,847 ballots. The winning difference was made up by the AIMIM and the AAP. While the AAP candidate polled 4164 votes, the AIMIM contestant got 1,771 votes.
2: Jamalpur-Khadia: Here, though the Congress candidate retained his seat and secured a third term, it came with a much-reduced winning margin. As against the 2017 vote share of 75,000 votes, Congress leader Imran Khedawala polled 58,487 ballots this year. The AAP got 5,887 votes whereas AIMIM’s Gujarat chief Sabir Kabliwala bagged 15,667 ballots.
3: Godhra: BJP’s CK Raulji won this Assembly constituency by defeating Congress candidate Rashmitaben Chauhan. In 2017, the winning difference was just 358 ballots. This year, however, the winning margin widened. Raulji polled 96,223 ballots whereas Chaudhary bagged 61,207 votes. Here also, AAP+AIMIM ate into the vote share of the Congress. The Aam Aadmi Party got 11,827 votes. The AIMIM on the other hand bagged 9,508 votes.
4: Limbayat: The BJP won this Assembly constituency dominated by the Marathi and Muslim communities in Surat. But the big reveal was how the AAP pushed the Congress to the third position. The final tally was – BJP’s Sangita Patil secured third consecutive term by defeating AAP’s Pankaj Tayede. While Patil got 95,696 votes, Tayede polled 37,687 ballots. Congress candidate finished in third position with 29,436 votes. The AIMIM secured 5,216 votes.
5: Danilimda: Another poll battle but same story of reduced margin. The Congress was able to retain this seat. But the winning margin was considerably lower in comparison with the 2012 and 2017 numbers. Shailesh Parmar of the Congress registered a third straight win by defeating BJP’s Nareshbhai Vyas by 13,525 votes. Parmar got 68,906 votes; Vyas polled 55,351 votes. AAP and AIMIM again cut the winning margin. The Aam Aadmi Party polled 22,934 votes whereas AIMIM’s Kaushika Parmar bagged 2,464 ballots.