How do people from various communities assess the work done by the government for their community? Our survey shows a paradox here. Overall, voters in Gujarat were not very dissatisfied with the State government. A little over one in every three persons said they are dissatisfied with the State government. However, when asked if the government has done enough for the respondents’ social section or community, a more critical response emerged. Even though different groups may not be dissatisfied with the State government, in a comparative analysis of 2017 and 2022, apart from traders, most groups were less than satisfied that the government had met the expectations of their group (Table 1).
According to the Gujarat State Agriculture Marketing Board, there are around 90 lakh farmers in agricultural production. They form about 65% of the total workforce in the State. Of those surveyed, nearly 51% said the government has succeeded in looking after farmers. This is 4% points less than those who said so in 2017.
Gujarat has the second-highest share of registered investors in the country. Almost 53% of the respondents said the government has succeeded in looking after the interests of traders. More than half of these respondents were traders.
Nearly 49% said the government has succeeded in looking after the interests of the youth, 40% said the government has failed in this aspect, and 11% chose not to respond.
When asked whether the interests of women have been looked after by the State government, nearly 56% of the population comprising about 57% of women said the State government has succeeded. While these numbers are not alarming for the BJP, there is a slight decline in satisfaction compared to 2017 in each section.
The data also show that there is considerable dissatisfaction among Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims on the issue of the State government working for the interest of their respective communities. Close to half the Muslims said the government has failed to look after the interests of their community. One in four from the Muslim community did not respond.
Adivasis, who comprise 8.1% of India’s Scheduled Tribe population and 14.8% of the State population, also expressed discontent with the State government in taking care of the interests of their community. A little over two-fifths of Adivasis said the government has failed to look after their interests and close to three in 10 did not share their opinion.
Among Dalits too, more respondents felt the government has not catered to their interests compared to those who said it has looked after the community’s interests.
Data show that the Patidars, who are demanding Other Backward Classes status since 2015, are also not overwhelmingly happy about what the government has done for their caste-community. Kolis, who are considered a major vote bank, are also not very satisfied as far as their caste-community interests are concerned (Table 2).
It will be interesting to see how the BJP reconciles these sectional dissatisfactions with the overall approval the government enjoys in the State.
Aaliyia Malik is researcher at Lokniti-CSDS and Mahashweta Jani is State coordinator in Gujarat