BJP in 2019
In about two years, Indian voters will elect a new Lok Sabha. The past two elections have seen majorities for the BJP. What do the trends portend for the next election in light of the recent state elections in five states – of which the BJP won four, and AAP won one? Will it be a hat trick for BJP? Is there any challenger who can dent the numbers? Is the Congress done and dusted? Can a third front emerge? Or is the real Lok Sabha battle only going to take place in 2029?
I like doing election analysis. I had created an election data website, IndiaVotes, as early as 1998. I had even created an “Indian Political Stock Exchange”. Both those were when I was running IndiaWorld. After I sold the business to Sify in late 1999, my direct interest in elections data waned. It was only in 2009 that I got interested again. In 2011, I wrote a blog post suggesting a path that would get BJP to a majority in the 2014 elections. Later that year, I bought the domain IndiaVotes.com, and (re-)launched it as a website with in-depth data on all Lok Sabha elections since 1952 and all State elections since 1977. While the site probably needs a refresh, it remains one of the best sources for data and some basic analyses on Indian elections.
To look ahead to 2024, I decided to examine the 2019 Lok Sabha elections data. There were some fascinating insights that came up:
- In the Hindi states (and what I call the Hindi+ states of Maharashtra and Gujarat), BJP and its allies had a success rate of 90%: 270/304
- In the states where BJP fought directly against the Congress, BJP and its allies had a similar hit rate of 90%: 151/166
- In the states where the BJP fought directly against regional parties, it had an 85% success rate: 153/180
- BJP’s success rate dropped only when it fought in non-Hindi states against regional parties.
Here is the detailed analysis:
The 6 options I have taken above cover 523 Lok Sabha constituencies for a total of 543. (I have not included states and Union Territories with less than 4 seats; I have excluded Ladakh from J&K since it became a Union Territory with 1 seat.)
- Hindi states where the BJP and allies (referred to as BJP+) fights directly against the Congress: 117/124, a win rate of 94%
- Non-Hindi states: where the BJP+ takes on the Congress directly (Karnataka and Assam): 34/42, with a win rate of 81%
- Hindi states where the BJP takes on regional parties as the primary Opposition: 153/180, with a win rate of 85%
- Non-Hindi states where the BJP primarily fights against a regional party (West Bengal and Orissa)
- Non-Hindi states where neither the BJP nor the Congress are strong
- Non-Hindi states where the Congress is strong
In the table above, column AC classifies the state into one of the 6 options. Columns AD to AI have the total number of seats in the state. Columns AL to AQ have the total seats won by the BJP (and its allies).
The first three categories (1, 2 and 3) together comprise 346 seats, where BJP+ won 304. Of these the BJP won 262, with 44 seats being won by allies (Apna Dal 2 in UP, JDU 16 and LJP 6 in Bihar, Shiva Sena 18 in Maharashtra). A note: since the 2019 elections, LJP and Shiv Sena are no longer BJP allies.
If the BJP repeats its 2019 performance, it means that it can almost get a majority in the Lok Sabha by just focusing on the first three categories of states, which account for just over 60% of the seats. The rest of India with nearly 200 seats does not matter much.
Another interesting factoid: BJP won 230 of its 303 seats in Lok Sabha with a voteshare of greater than 50%.