The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formed the government in Gujarat in 1995. Since then, it has more or less remained in power. Now, it is seeking yet another term.
The Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) survey sought to gauge public opinion in Gujarat on the government’s performance over the last five years. Close to two-thirds of the respondents reported that they were satisfied (fully or somewhat) with the State government’s performance (Table 1). The remaining one-third expressed dissatisfaction (fully or somewhat) with the government’s performance.
Satisfaction with the State government’s performance has seen an increase of 11% points since 2017. Even net satisfaction (those satisfied minus those dissatisfied) with the government’s performance stands at a comfortable 31% compared to a mere 8% in 2017. This means that more people are satisfied than dissatisfied with the government.
Of those satisfied, more people are from the middle and upper classes than the lower and poorer classes. Satisfaction is also higher among the rural respondents compared to the urban ones (68% versus 59%, respectively, as seen in Table 2).
When asked whether development during the BJP government’s tenure in the State has been for all, only for the rich, or has not taken place at all, only three in every 10 respondents said development has been for all sections (Table 3). Over half the respondents felt that development has been only for the rich (52%). This is a sharp rise from 2017 when 36% felt so. However, the proportion of those who felt that there has been no development in the State has seen a decline of 12% points. The sentiment that development has only taken place for the rich was much stronger among poor voters, with close to three-fifths of them saying so, compared to rich voters, with 40% saying so.
A higher proportion of voters in urban areas than in rural areas said development has taken place for all sections (Table 4).
Though Gujarat is often projected as a State with a good development record, people did not share this sentiment with the same degree of intensity. Over half the respondents said Gujarat is not as developed a State now as it used to be, and a little over one-third disagreed with this view (Table 5).
Furthermore, the share of those who said Gujarat is not as developed a State now as it used to be earlier has recorded an increase since 2017.
Even though people have mixed opinions on development, the State government is rated positively when it comes to satisfaction with the overall performance of the BJP. This paradox between rating the government positively and not being very enthusiastic in endorsing its development record could determine the nature of the electoral contest.
Vibha Attri and Vanshika Sharma are researchers at Lokniti-CSDS