Price rise appeared to be the key electoral issue for the electorate in Gujarat in the survey conducted by Lokniti-CSDS. When the respondents were asked about their voting considerations for the upcoming Assembly elections, close to half of them stated price rise as an important consideration (in open-ended questions). The share of people who said price rise is a concern is unprecedented not only in comparison with past trends in Gujarat, but also when compared with the responses in Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and U.P., which went to the polls recently. On average, about 5% of the respondents stated price rise as an issue in the four Assembly elections that were held earlier this year. Therefore, this issue merits detailed analysis.
In separate questions, when respondents were asked whether the prices of essential commodities have increased or decreased in the last two years, nine of every 10 said they have increased (Table 1). In the Assembly elections held in Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, and U.P. too, a little over four-fifths of the voters said that the prices of essential commodities had gone up. Importantly, despite acknowledging the increasing prices, they did not consider this an election issue (refer to articles published earlier in this series).
When voters were asked which government is responsible for controlling inflation, close to three of every five respondents said that this issue should be tackled jointly by the Central and State governments (Table 2). Among the rest, two of every 10 said that rising prices should be controlled by the Gujarat government, whereas the remaining one of every six said the Central government should do so.
The data suggest that of those who believe that prices have decreased or remained the same, close to seven of every 10 respondents showed a preference for the BJP (Table 3).
On the other hand, of those who believe that the prices of essential commodities have increased in the last two years, a little less than half indicated that they would vote for the BJP, one-fourth said they would prefer voting for the AAP, and two of every 10 favoured the Congress. Similarly, when people considered price rise as a very important election issue, they were less likely to prefer the BJP as compared to those who did not consider it an important election issue.
Jyoti Mishra and Himanshu Kapoor are researchers at Lokniti-CSDS