Post Election Analysis: What Went Wrong For BJP And Congress In Haryana?

Except for one pollster, ‘Axis My India’, all other pollsters clearly proved to be horribly wrong in their exit poll prediction, in the Haryana assembly election 2019.

What Exactly Happened In Haryana?

Technically, the BJP got a 3.3% higher vote share, compared to 2014,  but then, why did it lose 7 seats? In the 2014 assembly elections, BJP’s vote share was 33.2%, whereas, in 2019, BJP’s vote share was 36.5%. The increase of vote share always adds seats. That’s why most of the pollsters gave more numbers to the BJP. But then, the dynamism of Indian polity is such, that sometimes, vote share doesn’t matter.

The political dynamism in a particular polity always matters. The purpose of this article is to assess the exact reasons why the pollsters failed to get the numbers right, and what message the Haryana people wanted to give to all the parties.

However, one thing must be noted here. In my article ‘Assembly Election 20019: A preview on Haryana polity’, I have categorically mentioned that ‘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’.  I think I was right, as I was apprehensive about one reason which I will discuss in later on.

The BJP lost a 21.52% (58.02%36.5%) vote share, compared to the general election, 2019, where it got a 58.02% vote share. If you lose more than 15% vote share, then it becomes difficult to form a majority; although BJP did well, to be the single largest party getting 40 seats.

To understand the real reasons, I would like to refer to a pictorial presentation by NDTV. It allows you to see both, the 2014 results, as well as the 2019 results, in the same map. Now, let’s decode what happened to Haryana polity in 2019. In the 2014 assembly election, INLD was a formidable party with the solid backing of the Jat community, and it got a 24.1% vote share, along with 19 seats. The Congress was placed in the third position, with a 20.6% vote share and 15 seats.

INLD was nowhere in this election post its split with JJP. It has got just a 2.44% vote share, down by 21.66% compared to its 2014 performance. This was evident from the general election 2019 where it got just a 1.89% vote share.

As a prominent party vanished from the polity, there was bound to be a change of dynamism in the polity. When INLD was running, most of the jats (27%) were rallied behind it, and thus it made a counter polarisation on non-Jats towards the BJP. The loser was Congress in 2014.

In the map (NDTV) referred above, one can see how INLD dominated the Jat belt, (central Haryana), eating away at Congress’s Jat votes. Whereas BJP dominated Northern and Southern Haryana, in non-Jat dominated areas. In 2019, the Congress and JJP got the Jat votes divided between them (exact vote share not has been given yet by ECI). Most of Congress and JJP’s vote has increased in that area.

However, the BJP just lost net four seats in the Jat belt, as it got some of INLD’s seats, whereas, it lost some to Congress and JJP. It, in fact, lost more in Northern Haryana which is basically a rural belt. Here, BJP lost its ministers and many other MLAs and new star contestants, just because they lost field-connect. They took voters for granted, assuming that people will vote for them due to Narendra Modi’s popularity. Thus, the changing dynamism of the polity due to vanishing of INLD, and anti-incumbency at the ground doomed the BJP, despite Khattar government providing a reasonably, corruption- less government. Manoharlal Khattar too, is not a popular leader in Maharashtra, although he is respected for his honesty.

What Message Did Voters Have For The Congress And BJP?

Message to BJP:

  • There’s no doubt that Narendra Modi is very popular, but people are smart about how to choose their state and local representatives. Seven BJP ministers lost, which proves that these ministers took people for granted. Thus, people punished them. The lesson is this – despite the popularity of Narendra Modi among voters, the particular representative must disburse his duties, else the people will not vote for him.
  • Parachute-dropped candidates won’t be accepted by workers and voters, whatever star value such candidate has. Bobita Phogat and Yogeshwar Dutt lost to rebel BJP candidates, which proves this. Similarly, mindlessly cutting tickets won’t help. If someone honestly worked for five years, you can’t cut his ticket in favour of a new candidate, because you think ‘Modi magic’ will work. Six out of eight independents are BJP rebels.
  • Modi magic works if there’s no BJP government. In that case, Modi becomes the face. But Haryana already has a BJP government thus people have to factor the anti-incumbency too. Thus, BJP should have denied tickets to unpopular leaders, and provided a ticket to the workers who have worked honestly for five years.
  • Modi magic is always a facilitator in state elections. But then state BJP must have its credentials; else no magic can help.

Message to Congress:

  • People always want a credible alternative. For that, a credible narrative, along with a credible face is required. Unfortunately, Congress’ narrative is anti-Modi which leads to negative and cynical politics, which people reject. In a state election, local issues matter but then the national issues also have an effect. Opposing partial revocation of Article 370 was a bad strategy. Bhupinder Singh Hooda realised this and supported the revocation of Article 370. That’s why the people of Haryana, (including Jats), reinstalled their faith in him, although cautiously. It’s time for Congress to rebuild the party, with a face in each state, along with a credible counter-narrative, and importantly, not to oppose nationalistic issues just for the sake of opposition. Indian voters are smart, intelligent and mature, yet they are sentimental too, and nationalistic issues are always emotional. Hopefully, the Congress high command understands this and corrects themselves.
  • In the state elections, don’t blame or condemn Narendra Modi. Keep your subjects within the state issue. If you blame Narendra Modi, then you become the villain in front of many Modi admirers, thus, despite anger against the state BJP government, they will still vote for BJP out of an emotional burst. All Modi admirers are not pro-BJP and know how to punish non-performing BJP leaders. This is a very simple policy.
  • When BJP and Shiv Sena fought Maharashtra elections in 2014, separately, Narendra Modi or State BJP didn’t say a single word against Balasaheb Thackeray or Uddhab Thackeray, although Shiv Sena, including its supremo, slammed BJP and its leadership in each and every rally. What was the result? BJP got double seats compared to the Shiv Sena in 2014 and established itself as a big brother of Maharashtra politics. In Bihar elections 2015, Nitish Kumar never said anything wrong or critical about Narendra Modi, while Narendra Modi went on slamming Nitish Kumar, who is the most popular leader of Bihar. What was the result? Nitish Kumar won, and Narendra Modi lost in Bihar. These are the incidents one needs to learn from.

In conclusion, I would say just one thing, which I always say, that Indian voters are smart, intelligent and mature enough to exercise their voting rights as a whole. Whoever takes them for granted always bites the dust.  It’s the Indian voters that defeated the mighty Indira Gandhi, post-emergency. It’s the same voters that defeated the Vajpayee government, despite Vajpayee’s popularity, just because the BJP MPs took the voters for granted. They displayed the same wisdom again, both, in Haryana and Maharashtra this time. Thus, I am very proud of the Indian voters. Aren’t you too?


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