The caste factor is likely to remain at the core of Gujarat Assembly polls following the emergence of caste-based movements, with major parties distributing tickets accordingly. Both the BJP and Congress have kept the caste arithmetic in mind while given tickets for polls. The Patidars and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) have been given maximum tickets by both the main parties. The BJP has nominated 50 Patidars this time, while the Congress has fielded 41 candidates from the community. The ruling party has fielded 58 OBCs while the Congress has 62 such nominees. The main opposition party has given tickets to 14 Dalits while the BJP has fielded 13. As per political pundits, this Assembly poll will be a battle to win that “extra four to five per cent vote share”.
The BJP cannot afford to lose that while the Congress is trying its best to attract the castes which are ‘angry’ and can fill in that gap in the vote share. According to political analyst Achyut Yagnik, a mere swing of about four to five per cent would prove to be game changer for Congress. However, he believes that though there is some possibility the Congress may win some additional seats this time, it is too early to predict that it would come to power despite the support extended by caste leaders – Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani. “If you look at the vote share in the elections of 2002, 2007 and 2012, Congress bagged around 40 per cent while BJP got 49 per cent each time.