VOTER OPINION POLLS

Falling BJP support, GST anger and questions about Jay Shah: Data from new Gujarat survey

Latest ABP-Lokniti-CSDS survey shows the BJP still in the lead, but with a much smaller margin than it had two months ago.

If you looked at it purely from a binary win-lose point of view, not much seems to have changed in Gujarat. The Bharatiya Janata Party is still on course to win in the upcoming state assembly elections, as it has done for two decades now, despite the noise that the Opposition and local community leaders have managed to make. A closer look at the latest ABP-Lokniti-CSDS election survey, however, reveals much happening beneath the surface that should worry the saffron party.

Take voting intention, which is seen as a proxy for likely vote share. When Lokniti-CSDS surveyed likely Gujarat voters in the first half of August 2017, they found that the BJP was likely to get nearly 60% of the vote. When the same survey was done in the last week of October however, that number had come down to 47%, with the entire 12% gain going to the Congress.

Overall voting intention figures still heavily favour the BJP – there are six percentage points between it and the Congress – but such a massive swing in just over two months suggests a major shift, one that could still gather momentum ahead of polls which begin only on December 9.

For context, here is the vote share percentage in Gujarat state assembly elections over the last three decades. The BJP has, especially in the last decade and a half, cemented a comfortably consistent lead over the Congress.

At the very least this suggests that anecdotal evidence and media reporting about the closest fight in the state in years is being reflected in survey figures as well. This is important in particular because of the lesson of Uttar Pradesh. In that election, earlier in 2017, anecdotal evidence and reportage seemed to suggest that the Congress-Samajwadi Party combine would be a formidable competitor against the BJP. Yet, when the final results were announced, the saffron party comfortably swept the state, raising questions about the media reporting that did not seem to entirely reflect the scale of support for the BJP.

A similar impression has emerged from Gujarat in the last month and a half particularly, alongside reports of dissatisfaction with the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax. The trader class in Gujarat in particular was hit hard both by demonetisation and GST, prompting the Centre and state to announce a number of sops in an attempt to quell the disaffection.

Nevertheless, as per Lokniti-CSDS’ figures, more and more people in Gujarat are unhappy with the Goods and Services Tax.

It is important to remember that there is no direct analogue to voting results: Voters who are deeply unhappy with GST may nevertheless vote for the BJP, if they believe it serves other purposes or there is no other option. Moreover, other polls still show the BJP in a better situation.

But Lokniti-CSDS’ survey is useful in charting out changes in public opinion over the course of the last few months. The falling support for GST, for example, seems to be one of the many things that is also affecting people’s opinions of the Centre and the state’s governance records. Between May and October, satisfaction with Central governance has fallen from 75% to 54%. Figures for the state suggest a similar drop.

The Lokniti-CSDS goes into many more details, looking at trader unhappiness with the BJP, the popularity of the Congress’ ‘Vikas Gando Thayo Chhe’ (Development gone crazy) campaign and the persistent support of women for the saffron party. Among these data points is one that is new to the survey, since it is based on a news report from October 8.

The Wire had published a story pointing out a huge increase in revenue for a company owned by Jay Shah, son of BJP President Amit Shah, which also raised questions about numerous loans that his other companies had received. The BJP promptly trotted out Cabinet ministers among others to defend Jay Shah while also filing a defamation case against the news organisation for its report.


Lokniti-CSDS’ survey finds that, despite the BJP’s attempts to defend Jay Shah and the defamation case, a substantial number of people – including nearly 50% of traditional BJP voters – think an inquiry is needed into the workings of the firm owned by Amit Shah’s son.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Virat Kohli and Ola come together to improve Delhi's air quality

The onus of curbing air-pollution is on citizens as well

A recent study by The Lancet Journal revealed that outdoor pollution was responsible for 6% of the total disease burden in India in 2016. As a thick smog hangs low over Delhi, leaving its residents gasping for air, the pressure is on the government to implement SOS measures to curb the issue as well as introduce long-term measures to improve the air quality of the state. Other major cities like Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata should also acknowledge the gravitas of the situation.

The urgency of the air-pollution crisis in the country’s capital is being reflected on social media as well. A recent tweet by Virat Kohli, Captain of the Indian Cricket Team, urged his fans to do their bit in helping the city fight pollution. Along with the tweet, Kohli shared a video in which he emphasized that curbing pollution is everyone’s responsibility. Apart from advocating collective effort, Virat Kohli’s tweet also urged people to use buses, metros and Ola share to help reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

In the spirit of sharing the responsibility, ride sharing app Ola responded with the following tweet.

To demonstrate its commitment to fight the problem of vehicular pollution and congestion, Ola is launching #ShareWednesdays : For every ​new user who switches to #OlaShare in Delhi, their ride will be free. The offer by Ola that encourages people to share resources serves as an example of mobility solutions that can reduce the damage done by vehicular pollution. This is the fourth leg of Ola’s year-long campaign, #FarakPadtaHai, to raise awareness for congestion and pollution issues and encourage the uptake of shared mobility.

In 2016, WHO disclosed 10 Indian cities that made it on the list of worlds’ most polluted. The situation necessitates us to draw from experiences and best practices around the world to keep a check on air-pollution. For instance, a system of congestion fees which drivers have to pay when entering central urban areas was introduced in Singapore, Oslo and London and has been effective in reducing vehicular-pollution. The concept of “high occupancy vehicle” or car-pool lane, implemented extensively across the US, functions on the principle of moving more people in fewer cars, thereby reducing congestion. The use of public transport to reduce air-pollution is another widely accepted solution resulting in fewer vehicles on the road. Many communities across the world are embracing a culture of sustainable transportation by investing in bike lanes and maintenance of public transport. Even large corporations are doing their bit to reduce vehicular pollution. For instance, as a participant of the Voluntary Traffic Demand Management project in Beijing, Lenovo encourages its employees to adopt green commuting like biking, carpooling or even working from home. 18 companies in Sao Paulo executed a pilot program aimed at reducing congestion by helping people explore options such as staggering their hours, telecommuting or carpooling. After the pilot, drive-alone rates dropped from 45-51% to 27-35%.

It’s the government’s responsibility to ensure that the growth of a country doesn’t compromise the natural environment that sustains it, however, a substantial amount of responsibility also lies on each citizen to lead an environment-friendly lifestyle. Simple lifestyle changes such as being cautious about usage of electricity, using public transport, or choosing locally sourced food can help reduce your carbon footprint, the collective impact of which is great for the environment.

Ola is committed to reducing the impact of vehicular pollution on the environment by enabling and encouraging shared rides and greener mobility. They have also created flat fare zones across Delhi-NCR on Ola Share to make more environment friendly shared rides also more pocket-friendly. To ensure a larger impact, the company also took up initiatives with City Traffic Police departments, colleges, corporate parks and metro rail stations.

Join the fight against air-pollution by using the hashtag #FarakPadtaHai and download Ola to share your next ride.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Ola and not by the Scroll editorial team.