A victor always tries to see a state election outcome as a precursor to a larger, national trend. And the vanquished attempts to dissociate elections to the Vidhana Sabha from elections to the Lok Sabha.
And so it is with the verdict of the Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram assembly elections. The Congress sees it as a curtain raiser to the general elections in 2019. The BJP thinks not.
But a fortnight after the results in the five states, some things are getting clear from this collation of media reports.
BJP still has twice the hold over people than Congress
BJP and its allies now rule over 59 crore people in 16 states, roughly the equivalent of 49% of India’s population based on the 2011 census; the Congress and its allies are in power in six states, governing 25.68 crore people (21% of the population).
BJP graph is way down from 2017
The saffron imprint is still evident in half the states, but after the loss in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh—all in the Hindi heartland—a huge, gaping hole has developed as these graphics in The Telegraph and Deccan Herald (above) show.
As somebody rather inelegantly but somewhat appropriately put it, you can now traverse from Kashmir to Kanyakumari without stepping on cow dung—or being lynched for it.
Narendra Modi’s impact on elections is vastly reduced
“Modi Impact” has been a lazy cliche to explain election outcomes in the media, but just as Karnataka had demonstrated previously, it is now becoming clear that the prime minister’s oratory and appeal is facing the law of diminishing returns, against a mountain of failed promises, blatant lies, and manufactured statistics.
Of the 55 rallies Modi addressed in the four states, the BJP vote share fell in 46 of them, as this graphic in The Hindu (above) shows. And in the 61 seats where Uttar Pradesh chief minister Ajay Singh Bisht went, the BJP vote share fell in 50 of them.
Congress voteshare went up in 58 of the 75 assembly seats where the Congress president Rahul Gandhi campaigned.
The most telling photograph of “Modi Impact” was published by the Hindi newspaper, Dainik Bhaskar (above).
On November 16, Modi addressed a public meeting in Gwalior to introduce 20 of BJP’s candidates from Gwalior-Chambal. All but one—that is 19 of them—lost. The party previously held 13 seats.
(This Twitter thread gives a fine insight into Modi’s impact.)
At this rate, BJP will not touch the 200-mark
The BJP had won 62 Lok Sabha seats out of the 65 on offer in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in 2014. Based on the assembly results in the three states in 2018, the Indian Express reports that the BJP would win only 31 of them.
A similar computation shows that if SP and BSP stick together in UP, BJP will lose 50 of 73 seats it won. If Congress and JDS align in Karnataka, BJP will get only 6 of 17 seats it won in 2014.
In all, says the Express, BJP will lose 92 Lok Sabha seats, from its 2014 tally of 283, which means the party will be stuck somewhere around the 180 mark.
The think tank Brookings India, too, estimates (based on the state results) that the BJP tally will go down by as many as 103 seats and end up around 179.
It says the party’s biggest losses will come from Rajasthan (-16), Madhya Pradesh (-13), Bihar (-13) and Gujarat (-12).
(The Brookings estimate came before the BJP announced its seat sharing arrangement with JD(U) and LJP, and before RLSP walked out of the NDA.)
Before the assembly elections psephologist turned politician Yogendra Yadav wrote on the website The Print that the BJP would be down 100 seats and has repeated that figure after the BJP loss in three of those states.
The most optimistic figure that has emerged for the BJP in the last fortnight was this story (above) in the business newspaper Mint, citing a computation by India Votes, which give the BJP 219 seats to the Congress’s 97.
That—and this (below).
Modi looks increasingly set to be a one-term PM
After the results of the five states were announced, 61% of 561 respondents in a Twitter poll said Narendra Modi would be a one-term PM.
Which, it might amaze bhakts, was exactly what Nostradamus had predicted long, long ago..
Like mutual funds, past elections are not a guarantee of future performance, but it is also true that the voter does does give some inkling of how her mind is ticking.
So, when a piece on Mukesh Ambani-owned News 18 calls 2018 the “BJP’s worst year“—and that is before the party lost MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh—it is useful to take note.