Voting trends show a clear rural-urban divide for Cong., BJP in Gujarat

Congress does much better in rural areas

December 07, 2017 12:46 am | Updated 03:23 pm IST

Women waiting to cast their votes

Women waiting to cast their votes

In the run-up to polls, reports in Gujarat indicate a rural-urban divide in the support bases of the BJP and the Congress.

Much of the visible opposition to the BJP in the last three years was led by movements such as the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti and the Dalit Asmita Yatra, rather than the Congress. The protests were concentrated in the rural and semi-urban areas, reflecting rural distress, seeing its expression in the form of identity movements. The Patidar agitations led by Hardik Patel began with demands for reservations in jobs for poorer Patel youth before crystallising as an oppositional force following police crackdowns. The movement led by Jignesh Mewani began as protests against atrocities on Dalits in Una, and included demands for land redistribution.

Mirroring trend

This begs the question if these agitations have consolidated into substantial support in rural areas for the opposition even as the BJP has enjoyed support in urban areas. Table 2 shows civic polls in 2015 clearly mirroring such a rural-urban divide with the Congress party doing well in taluka and district panchayats and the BJP winning municipalities and municipal corporations. The polls were held in the aftermath of the Patel stir.


That said, local issues generally dominate civic elections unlike the Assembly polls which are featuring campaigns led by PM Narendra Modi for the BJP and Rahul Gandhi for the Congress, giving the elections more than a parochial flavour. A look at the rural-urban pattern in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections is therefore essential. This was a watershed poll for the BJP which won close to 60% of the vote share and all 26 seats. But even then, a rural-urban break-up of the votes tells a story of variance.

Booth analysis

Social anthropologist Raphael Susewind’s work on Gujarat was used to arrive at this. Dr. Susewind merges NASA’s urban-rural classifications (MODIS data) based on satellite information and the Election Commission’s polling booth data to identify if a booth is located in a rural or an urban setting. MODIS data classifies urban areas into highly urban, semi-urban, etc. in a scale of 1 to 9 (the lower number corresponds to higher urbanity). Sixty five per cent of the electorate voted in booths in rural areas while the rest in various urban classifications.

Table 1 shows how support for the BJP and the Congress varied in rural areas and across urban classifications. It is clear that the support for the BJP in 2014 was more in highly urban areas (such as Ahmedabad and Surat) and declined in classifications that were less urban and in rural areas. For the Congress, it was vice versa.

Table 3 shows region-wise break-up of the vote shares. The break-up in the CSDS’ opinion poll (third round) also shows the rural-urban variance. A comparison between 2014 and the CSDS’ poll shows that the opposition has got a fillip in rural areas.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.