Gujarat state Assembly elections are now the main focus of all the major political parties, Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress , Shiv Sena, and both the factions of JD(U). With less than a month to go for the first phase of the election, the political rivals are busy formulating strategies to trounce their opponents.

To formulate an effective game plan, it is necessary to review how their strategies played out the last time around and what the party needs to do differently in the coming elections. If results of the last assembly elections are evaluated, an interesting trend emerges which is purely based on the margins with which the seats were won.

The elections results of 2012 saw Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under Narendra Modi winning 119 seats in an assembly of 182 seats, Keshubhai Patel’s Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) – 2, Independent (IND) – 1,  Indian National Congress (INC) – 57, Janata Dal (United) JD(U) – 1, and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) winning 2 seats in Gujarat.

The interesting fact is that there were nearly 50 seats on which the elections were won by a margin of less than 5 percent. These seats will be interesting to watch as even a minor sway will alter the results of these seats and there of the party’s position in the tally. With the Gujarat election space cluttered with the new entrants of Patidar, Dalit and Rajput fronts, along with the regional political parties in fray, these 50 seats would be the deal maker or breaker.

Of the 50 seats, on 10 seats, the winning margin was less than 2000 votes. The majority of these seats (seven) were won by the Congress candidates, two by the BJP and one by the NCP. All these seats have a major possibility of the existing party being de-seated in the coming elections.

Among the 50 seats having lowest winning margin, 26 were won by the Congress, followed by BJP with 22 seats and a seat each to NCP and GPP. Since 2012, GPP has got merged into the BJP, hence the major tussle in these seats will be between the BJP and the Congress.

The seats where victory margin was less than 5 percent included Anjar, Tharad, Palanpur, Radhanpur, Patan, Bahucharaji, Prantij, Gandhinagar (North), Gandhinagar (South), Sanand, Bapunagar, Dariyapur, Wankaner, Rajkot (East), Kalavad, Dabhoi, Jamnagar (Rural), Jamnagar (South), Dwarka, Manavadar, Lathi, Karjan, Maatar, Nadiad, Mahmadabad, Thasra, Kapadvanj, Lunavada, Waghodia, Dang, and Jetpur.

Congress candidates won by a margin of less than 2 per cent in Dehgaam, Dhoraji, Somnath, Talala, Godhra, Chota Udaipur, while BJP wrested the seats with a similar margin in Morbi, Dadiyapada and Savarkundala. Congress candidate in Dahagam won by a margin of 1.79 per cent (2297 votes).

Congress’s victory margin in Dhoraji was 1.79 per cent with a lead of 2943 votes. Somnath had 1.33 per cent margin and the lead was of 2096 votes. Congress bagged Talala seat by 1,478 votes (1.05 per cent victory margin), Godhra by 2,868 votes (1.80 per cent). Congress candidate defeated the opponent by a margin of 1.56 per cent (2,305 votes) in Chhota Udepur.

The BJP, on the other hand, won the Morbi seat by a margin of 1.71 per cent, a lead of just 2,760 votes. The victory margin 1.68 per cent (2,555 votes) in Dadiyapada and  1.81 per cent (2,384 votes) in Savarkundla.

Kadi, Kankarej, Kalol, Limbdi, Sojitra, and Sankedha seats were won by the Congress by less than 1 per cent margin, whereas BJP and NCP candidates won the Anand and Umreth seats, respectively, by less than 1 percent vote margin.

Congress’s margin of victory for the Kadi seat was .69 per cent (1217 votes). The Congress bagged the Kankeraj seat by just 600 votes. In Kalol, Congress’s winning margin was 343 votes. In Limbdi, Congress won by 1,561 votes. In Sojitra, Congress candidate won by only 162 votes. The party defeated the rival candidate by 1,452 votes in Sankheda.

In Anand, the BJP candidate won by 987 votes. In Umreth, the NCP candidate won by 1,394 votes.

How the voters of these seats excercise their franchise will be interesting to see.

The Assembly elections in Gujarat will be held in two phases on December 9 and 14 and the results will be declared on December 18 along with the election results of Himachal Pradesh that went to polls on November 9.