The key takeaway from the 2019 analysis is this: If the BJP (or its ally) fought in a Hindi state or directly against the Congress, the win rate was 85-94%. This kind of electoral dominance is unprecedented in Indian politics. States like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Punjab just did not matter in the eventual outcome.
What this means is that for an alternative to the BJP, a new party needs to dent their fortress in Hindi states or where it is a direct BJP-Congress fight. This is the challenge that India’s Opposition faces in 2024.
So, the two questions to ask are: What is the risk the BJP has in 2024? What can the Opposition do? A third question we will cover later is on the possibility of a startup challenge in 2024.
Before we take up these questions, there is one more useful analysis that can help. This is about the BJP’s vote share as a percentage of population.
In the table above, column C shows the total number of seats in a state, while column E shows the seats won by BJP (and its 2019 allies). Column F shows the BJP+ vote share, column G shows the turnout, and column H derives the BJP vote share as a percentage of population.
To simplify: in the states where the BJP wins big, it typically gets 50-60% vote share and turnout is 60-70%, thus giving it a 30-40% share of the total voting base. This is a remarkably dominant position. But it also means that 60-70% of the electors are not voting for the BJP: they are either not voting or voting for an alternative. In other words, for every one person among the eligible voter base supporting the BJP, one is not voting and one is supporting someone else.
BJP’s 30-40% voting base as a percentage of population comprises two constituents: the core BJP base (I estimate this to be 20-30%), and the floating vote (about 10% additional). This non-aligned floater votes on the basis of the hawa, and thus it becomes very important to create the feeling that the BJP is winning because many of these voters like to go with the flow and vote for the winning party rather than waste their vote.
A better view of the electorate in the BJP strongholds can be seen as thus:
- Core BJP base (who will vote and only vote for the BJP Lotus symbol; the candidate is irrelevant): 25%
- Core non-BJP base: 15%
- Non-voters (NV): 30%
- Non-aligned voters (NA): 30%, of which
- Floaters who will typically vote for the winning party: 15%
- Wasters who will vote for small parties or Independents with no hope of winning: 15%
In short, BJP 25%, Opposition 15%, NANVs 60% (split equally between NA and NV).