2019- BJP’s URBAN VOTE AT RISK?
Numerous data articles have made the point the loss of BJP’s Urban Vote share in the 2018 Assembly elections. Here
Hindustan Times – BJP strike rate drops in both rural, urban areas
To Quote Mint
The BJP’s rural vote share has declined 4 percentage points to 32% in 2018, even as its urban vote share has declined 4.5 percentage points to 34%, compared to five years ago. There was also variation across states. In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP suffered a 6 percent point loss in the urban vote share while the loss in rural vote shares was limited to 3 percentage points between 2018 and 2013. In contrast, BJP’s rural losses were significantly greater in neighbouring Chhattisgarh where they lost 8 percentage points of the rural vote share.
So it is fairly clear, the loss of BJP’s urban vote share in India and if the results replicate, they are in trouble. Let us study this issue in greater detail
Correlation between Assembly and Lok Sabha Elections
BJP has always outperformed in Lok Sabha Elections versus Vidhan Sabha Elections. However, it has never trailed Congress as much as it did in 2018
The winner of Assembly elections always gets a bigger jump in the Lok Sabha elections. However, No assembly election has been as close as this one in the last 15 years
BJP has always gained in Lok Sabha elections but so has Congress. However, BJP has never been so close to Congress in assembly election like in 2018.
It is clear from the data that BJP has significantly high risks in Chhattisgarh, followed by Madhya Pradesh and then Rajasthan. There are enough surveys that indicate that Modi’s popularity follows this trajectory – Most popular in Rajasthan and Least popular in Chhattisgarh
Let us look at turnout next
CG – 2003 – 71.3%, 2004 -52% Gap = 19.3%
CG-2008 – 70.6%, 2009 – 55.3% Gap =15.3%
CG- 2013 – 75.3%, 2014 – 69.5% Gap =5.8%
MP – 2003 – 67.3%, 2004 – 48.1% Gap = 19.2%
MP-2008 -69.8% , 2009 – 51.2%, Gap = 18.6%
MP- 2013-70.8%, 2014 – 61.6%, Gap = 9.2%
Raj – 2003 – 67.2%, 2004 -49.8%, Gap = 17.4%
Raj-2008 – 66.5%, 2009 – 48.4%, Gap = 18.1%
Raj- 2013 – 74.3%, 2014 – 63.1%, Gap =11.2%
The lowest gap in AC and Lok Sabha turnout was in Chhattisgarh in 2014. It is also the only BJP ruled State where the vote share gap between Congress and BJP was ‘only’ 8.6%. It was nearly or more than 20% in case of MP and Rajasthan. Same with Gujarat. The only states where the gap was less than that was where there other strong parties as well – Maharashtra, Karnataka, Assam etc. Now, let us look at how the absolute number of votes changed for BJP and Congress in each of these States between Assembly election 2013 and Lok Sabha 2014.
Chhattisgarh, BJP + 0.6 million, Congress – 0.6 million (Number of Low Margin BJP Seats – 3/11)
Madhya Pradesh, BJP +0.8 million, Congress – (-2 million) (Number of Low Margin Seats – 5/29)
Rajasthan, BJP – + 1 million, Congress, (-2 million) (Number of Low Margin Seats – 5/25)
– Congress did a poor job of mobilising vote in 2014, something that is unlikely to happen in 2019. This puts these 13 seats in risk straightaway
– If the Opinion Polls give the Congress even a fighting chance (like in 2018 Assembly elections), funding will not be an issue (unlike 2014)
– So if one combines past election patterns and the above turnout data, BJP is easily looking at a 13 seat loss.
Some cities like Korba, Satna, Gwalior, Ratlam etc are already part of the 13. Now, let us look at other big cities of these 3 States and see which ones are at slightly lesser risk than above seats.
5. Sawai Madhopur
This takes the total high risk seats list to 18 of which 9 are urban seats.
So the answer is clear, with a small swing and increased turnout, BJP could lose about 18 of its seats, nearly half of them from urban regions. But…..
For the Congress to win anything beyond this will need the following
a. A big swing away from the BJP (None is seen so far, not to say it is not possible)
b. A Urban middle class proposition that will trigger a mass movement away from the BJP (another 15 seats)
Given the limited electoral resources and Congress party’s discomfort with middle classes, this scenario is highly unlikely. Instead, Congress will pivot even further amongst rural votes and try winning atleast another 7-8 seats targetting a net gain of about 25 seats (This will reduce BJP from 62 to 37). It is too late for Congress to deploy further resources and strategies on Urban Indian Voters
So to answer, BJP will lose some urban seats (about 9) anyway due to some negative swing and higher Congress voter turnout in 2019. However, one cannot see BJP losing beyond that and instead, the Congress will target more rural votes in order to pull BJP down as much as possible in 2019.