Election Commissioner of India has declared the dates for the assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra. Both states will go for polling on October 21, 2019, and the counting will be done on October 24, 2019. Thus, it’s time for a pre-poll analysis. In this article, I am taking up the scenario of Haryana.
Haryana polity has changed significantly since 2014. Until 2009, the major parties in Haryana were Congress and INLD (Indian National Lok Dal). In 2009 assembly election, Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress party beat the anti-incumbency and got 40 seats with a vote share of 35.08%. This was a loss of 7.38% vote share and 27 seats compared to the 2005 assembly election where INC got a vote share of 42.46% and 67 seats. This can be understood because Congress contested the 2009 assembly election against anti-incumbency.
INLD had a vote share of 29.61% in 2000 assembly election but could win 47 seats because of its alliance with BJP, which got around 8.94% vote share and six seats. In 2005, INLD contested alone and got just nine seats with 26.77% vote share. In 2009, INLD got 25.79% votes, yet it got 31 seats which are far less from a majority; thus, Bhupinder Singh-led Congress retained power, taking support from independents and others. Till 2009, BJP had a vote share of less than or equal to 9%.
However, BJP’s fortune changed since 2014 general election where the “Modi Magic” worked fully. In the general election, BJP got an astounding increase of its vote share up to 34.7%, whereas Congress and INLD got a 22.9% and 24.4% vote share respectively. Seat-wise BJP won 7 out of 10, whereas Congress won one seat and INLD won two seats. Point to be noted here is that the BJP took away most of the vote share from Congress and other parties, whereas INLD was able to maintain its vote share losing some 2%.
In the 2014 assembly election, BJP, Congress and INLD got 33.2%, 20.6% and 24.1%. The interesting point is that all three parties lost some vote share compared to the 2014 general election. The reason is simple. In the general election, Narendra Modi was the face, whereas in the assembly election there was no face for BJP. Yet, the anti-incumbency against Congress was so high that people chose BJP as the party giving them 47 seats. Some other small parties and independents increased their vote share.
In the 2019 general election, the scenario completely changed. BJP got 58.02% vote share and won all 10 seats. Congress increased its vote share a little (28.42% vote share) compared to its 2014 vote share. But INLD was defeated utterly getting just 1.89% vote share. Thus, the story for the 2019 general election is that INLD is sent to oblivion and all its vote share has simply been transferred to BJP. Narendra Modi’s magic is alright, but INLD’s downfall was mostly due to its corruption and nepotism.
Now the question is, who will win in 2019 assembly election? Will it follow the 2014 trend or will it be any different? To understand this, we have to look into the demographic distribution and acceptability of parties.
As per the 2011 census, Haryana has 87.46% Hindus, 7.03% Muslims and 4.91% Sikhs. Among Hindus, the caste/community-wise distribution is Punjabi (10.3%), Brahmin (8.4%), Baniya (6.6%), Jat (27.8%), Yadav/Ahir (10%), Rajput (3.1%), Gujjar (2.2%), Dalits (21%), others (8.9%). Here, it must be noted that Jats are the largest community, around 27.8%. Both INLD and Congress used to win elections because of the equation of Jat+Muslims+Dalits. Jats were politically effective vote bank till 2009. In 2014, it’s said that the BJP won because of complete polarisation of non-Jat votes.
But then, in the 2019 general election, it’s seen that BJP got support from all communities including Jats. According to a report, the BJP, in the 2019 general election, got 74% of non-Jat upper caste votes, 50% Jats, 73% OBC, 58% SC and 14% Muslims votes. That means BJP increased its vote share by 26% from Non-Jats, 31% from Jats, 30% from OBC, 39% from SC and even 5% from Muslims. That means BJP has destroyed the vote bank politics and caste equations in Haryana polity.
An assembly election is always different from the general election. The state-level issues always come into play, and regional players sometimes play key roles. Manohar Lal Khattar is not so popular, but then Congress is in disarray, INLD looks lost, and other new parties are yet to show some credibility. The AAP has failed to win any trust either. Thus, looking at all these factors, I think BJP will retain the power even if it loses 10-15% vote share compared to its general election performance in May this year.
Just a caveat is that speculating on Indian voter’s mood is always a risky affair and I might be horribly wrong. But then, the statistics say that BJP will retain Haryana in the upcoming assembly election. What’s your opinion based on the above data?