In economically-savvy Gujarat, dissatisfaction among traders and farmers about demonetisation and implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) seems to have turned the tide in Congress's favour. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is nowhere close to losing its grip on a state it has ruled for nearly two decades, a new opinion poll showed.
The poll predicted a "photo finish" with a definite thrust in momentum for the Congress which has tied with the BJP for the same voting percentage after the third round of the pre-election tracker. It predicted that both parties would get 43% of the votes polled.
"The momentum is clearly in the Congress's favour," CSDS director Sanjay Kumar told The Telegraph, adding that "normally, the party that comes from behind tends to gain."
The third and final round of the pre-election tracker was conducted by Lokniti and Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) for ABP News from November 23-30, 2017, after interviewing 3,655 voters in 200 locations spread across 50 assembly constituencies.
Congress rallied in Gujarat riding mostly on the anger of traders — who form the backbone of state — over demonetisation and GST. While the overnight banning of higher currency notes stalled the rural economy across the country, GST brought Gujarati traders out on to the streets.
In October the BJP was ahead by four points among traders, a lead that has all but vanished, with the Congress claiming 43 percent votes, as opposed to BJP's 40 percent among the trading community.
Congress has not only gained from farmers' resentment but women voters too seemed to have shifted towards the party – from 39% favouring Congress in the last round to 42% in the final tracker poll.
Another interesting shift has been among the Patel community. Traditionally a strong BJP base, the Patels constitute about 15 per cent of the state's population. The Patel/Patidars were found to be backing the Congress in the latest poll. The Adivasis who had gravitated towards the BJP in the first two opinion polls seem to be back with the Congress.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi's charisma endures, there has been a dip in his popularity – down to 64 percent from 67 percent at the end of October. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's likeability has gone up by 6 points, from 51 to 57 percent.