Gujarat 2022 Elections: Explaining BJP’s Hegemony

Published date01 June 2023
AuthorChristophe Jaffrelot,Mahesh Langa
Date01 June 2023
Subject MatterOriginal Articles
Gujarat 2022 Elections:
Explaining BJP’s Hegemony
Christophe Jaffrelot1,2 and Mahesh Langa3
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) victory in the 2022 Gujarat state elections not only broke a record
but also reversed the trend that was resulting in Congress’ growing effectiveness election after election.
This time, the Congress registered its worse performance ever, largely because of the entry of a new
player, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), but also because of the progress of the BJP. The ruling party is
stronger than ever because of its ideology, its organization and, more importantly, its leader, Narendra
Modi. These assets allow the BJP to get support across caste, classes and sub-regions like never before.
Its rise, however, challenges democracy in different ways, not only its ‘OBCisation’ is not a synonym of
plebeinization in terms of class, but its strategy of equating religious majority and political majority and
to systematically undermine the opposition tends to make the BJP ‘the only game in town’.
Gujarat, BJP, Narendra Modi, Congress, AAP, caste, class, Muslims, majoritarianism
In the 2022 Gujarat elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 156 seats out of 182, breaking the
Congress party’s record of winning 149 seats under Madhavsinh Solanki’s stewardship in 1985 elec-
tions. With this historic victory, after the Left Front in West Bengal, the BJP is the only party that has won
seven consecutive elections in a state.
While doing so, the BJP has reversed a trend that had started in 2007 and that had culminated 10 years
later: the erosion of the BJP’s tally, which, between 2012 and 2017 dropped from 115 to 99, while the
Congress increased its presence in the Vidhan Sabha from 61 seats to 77 (with the potential support of
half a dozen NCP, JD(U) and independent allies in the assembly) (Jaffrelot & Verniers, 2017). In 2017,
while Congress could rely on a new Troika made of Hardik Patel (Patidar), Alpesh Thakor (OBC) and
Jignesh Mevani (Dalit), the BJP had been saved by its strong performance in large cities and their periph-
eries. The party had won 15 seats out of 20 in Ahmedabad, 9 out of 10 in Vadodara and 15 out of 16 in
Original Article
CERI-SciencesPo/CNRS, Paris, France
King’s College, London, UK
Senior Assistant Editor, The Hindu, Ahmedabad, India
Corresponding author:
Christophe Jaffrelot, CERI-SciencesPO/CNRS, Paris, France.
Studies in Indian Politics
11(1) 118–133, 2023
© 2023 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/23210230231166454
Jaffrelot and Langa 119
the Surat area, whereas it did not do well at all in the countryside where the Congress prevailed. The BJP
had lost ground across regions but particularly more so in Saurashtra, where it had lost 12 seats (from 35
in 2012). By contrast, the performance of the Congress had been pushed by its results in Saurashtra, a
region where the agricultural crisis resulting from the low price of cotton, groundnuts and other products
had fuelled peasant’s distress, particularly among the Patels. The Congress doubled its number of seats
compared to 2012 (30 against 16), winning that sub-region for the first time in years. All these trends
have been reversed in 2022, as is evident from Table 1.
Certainly, the BJP’s score is still below 50% of the valid votes in rural constituencies (47.65% to be
precise) and the more urban the voters are, the more BJP-oriented they also are: the party gets 54.42% of
the valid votes in semi-urban constituencies and 63.23% in the urban ones. But this is not a big issue for
its leaders because Gujarat is more and more urbanized, and Congress has not made progress in any of
these categories of seats. If its score in rural constituencies is 10 percentage points above its scores in the
urban ones, both remain very lowrespectively, 30.16% and 20.65%. Similarly, Saurashtra is the only
province where BJP has won less than 50% of the votes (49.21), but Congress has done much more badly
this time with 26.57% (Table 2).
The results of the 2022 Gujarat elections can be partly explained by the entry of a new opposition
party, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). But this new factor accounts only ‘for the magnitude’ of the defeat
of Congress and the victory of BJP. The former lost also because of its weaknesses and the later won also
because of its strengthswhich tend to transform the ruling party into a structural, majoritarian hegemon,
a development whose implications for democracy need to be scrutinized.
Effect of Triangular Contests
While the AAP had already contested the last Gujarat state elections in 2017, the party leaders invested
much more time, energy and money in the 2022 ones. First of all, they started their campaign early. After
Table 1. Vote Shares of the Main Parties (in % and Number of Seats).
Party 2002 2007 2012 2017 2022
BJP 49.8 (127) 49 (117) 48 (115) 49.1 (99) 52.5 (156)
Congress 39 (51) 38 (59) 39 (61*) 41.4 (77) 27.3 (17)
GPP 3.6 (2)
AAP 0.1 (0) 12.9 (5)
Source: Election Commission of India, Statistical Reports for relevant years.
*The two seats won by the NCP may be added to the 61 Congress seats (Election Commission of India statistical report of 2012
Gujarat Assembly election).
Table 2. Vote Share of the Main Parties by Region in 2022.
Party Saurashtra North Gujarat Central Gujarat South Gujarat
BJP 49.2 52.8 53 56
Congress 26.6 32.6 27.7 21
APP 17.85 7.4 10 17.5
Others 6.4 7.2 9.3 5.5
Source: Election Commission of India.

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