Will smaller, new parties dent anti-incumbency votes benefiting BJP?

After the Aam Aadmi Party and Shankersinh Vaghela’s Prajasakti Democratic Party, Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) has also announced that it will contest all seats in the Gujarat Assembly elections.

The big question is how will these small parties with little or no grassroots network cash in on the anti-incumbency votes.

The Ram Vilas Group president Chirag Paswan is in Surat, after landing in Gujarat on Tuesday night. He has announced that his party will contest all the seats in Gujarat.

On Wednesday, he will meet Union Home and Cooperation Minister Amit Shah in Surat.

According to the Election Commission’s record of 2017 Assembly election results, Congress candidates lost 16 seats with less than 3,000 votes margin, of which three lost with less than 1,000 margin. On the other hand, BJP had won 16 seats with less than 2,000 votes. In such a close game, independents and smaller parties play a big role in cutting votes.

The EC record says 54 unrecognised parties had contested on 367 seats and fetched 5,13,030 votes meaning 1.71 per cent of the total polled votes went into their accounts. Whereas registered state parties contested on 104 seats and got 96,708 votes. Even national parties like the BSP had contested on 139 seats and fetched 0.69 per cent votes. None of these parties had won a single seat. But, each vote that goes to their account indirectly benefits the ruling party.

“It is not that only smaller parties can eat into the vote share of the opposition, even strong independent candidates can harm the prospects,” believes Paresh Dhanani, former Leader of Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly.

His observation is that the Congress has minimum committed votes of 33 per cent in the state, even in the worst situations like 1990 or 2002 elections, the Congress had not performed below this.

Dhanani said that the LJP or Vaghela’s new party will not have any impact, because in the past voters of the state have not voted stalwarts like late Chimanbhai Patel’s regional party KIMLOP, late Keshubhai Patel’s GPP and Vaghela’s RJP. But with regards to AAP, he said, “The AAP is likely to damage BJP in the urban areas, as urban voters seem to be more impressed by the party, which is the core vote bank of BJP. However, it will have little impact on the rural voters, where the Congress is strong.”

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