Exit polls giving the BJP an edge in Gujarat have been dismissed by the Congress. The party exuded confidence of raising its tally substantially and even coming to power in the state after more than a decade. Party leaders are pegging the winning figure at 103 (out of 182) seats in the assembly and count 90 as “absolutely sure” seats.
But Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is reportedly not going by general impressions, in-house surveys or exit polls. She wants a seat by seat count. And AICC general secretary B.K. Hari Prasad is expected to meet her on Tuesday with a list of seats the Congress hopes to win.
Between last December and after the first phase on December 11, the Congress commissioned four surveys. The first gave the party a paltry 40 seats. After two rallies by Sonia, the survey in April put the figure at 70. In the third — after ticket distribution and seat-sharing talks with allies — it touched the halfway mark. It reportedly improved on this in the fourth, conducted immediately after the first round.
The December 23 vote count will show if the Congress has been right or wrong in assessing its tally. But leaders claim that after a long time the party’s poll and “political management” has been foolproof, with AICC general secretaries and CWC members managing the elections at the constituency level.
“Unlike (Narendra) Modi’s centralized campaign, ours was totally decentralized,” said a leader.
In its SWOT analysis, the Congress counts its strengths in getting UPA allies and BJP rebels on board and in careful candidate selection through nine screening committees, three central election committee meetings and several rounds of talks with anyone who can help defeat the chief minister. The opportunities came from divisions in the BJP-RSS-VHP ranks and in the Patel community — who, the Congress said, did to the BJP this time what the Muslims had done to it in 2002 by failing to vote for them — as well from the dissatisfaction of farmers, tribals, bureaucracy and diamond and textile merchants with the Modi regime.