On 6th January 2020, Chief Election Commissioner of India declared the dates of Delhi Assembly Election. The voting will be done on 8th February 2020 in single-phase and counting will be done on 11th February 2020. This election will be keenly watched by many, as it’s not only the first election of 2020, but it also has a lot of political ramifications.
BJP performed spectacularly in the 2019 general elections. After getting elected, although the BJP government took a lot of daring and historical decisions, its electoral successes are not so impressive.
In Haryana, it’s mandate was reduced, and it had to bring in JJP for the formation of the government. In Maharashtra, BJP-Shiv Sena alliance got the public mandate but its ally Shiv Sena dumped BJP on a rotational Chief Minister issue and allied with Congress, and NCP, to form a non-BJP government. In Jharkhand, BJP suffered a severe loss.
In the 2015 Delhi assembly elections, AAP performed really well, winning 67 seats out of a total strength of 70. But after that, its electoral performance was very poor. It came third in MCD elections and performed very poorly in the 2019 general elections, with just 13.64% vote share. Thus, the question is whether it can retain power in 2020 assembly elections?
On the other hand, after decimation in the 2015 assembly elections, Congress has improved a bit in MCD elections but it did better in 2019 general elections, gaining a 26.91% vote share compared to AAP’s 13.64% vote share. Naturally, the party would expect a better performance, by adding more vote shares, either to win the assembly elections or at least maintaining a number two position in Delhi.
The vote shares of Delhi assembly election, as well as Delhi Loksabha elections, are given in the table below. A point to be noted is that Delhi was a Part-C state in 1952, where it had 48 MLAs for its assembly. Later, it became a UT. Again, since 1993, it became a state, with an assembly of 70 seats, with limited power to legislate.
From the above, it’s evident that BJP or its earlier version of BJS (Bharatiya Jan Sangh) has a strong base since 1952. Before AAP’s entry into Delhi politics, both BJP and Congress had at least 30% core vote share.
That means the remaining 40% were floating vote share, which can go either way including independents. BJP as part of Janata Party, secured the highest vote share at 71.26% in 1977 general elections, whereas Congress got the highest at 67.86% vote share in 1989 general elections.
In 1977, the Congress was able to get 27.58%, when BJP (Janata Party) got the highest vote share, whereas the BJP was able to get a 30.37% vote share; when Congress got its highest vote share in the 1984 general elections. That means both Congress and BJP had their core vote to approximately 30% vote share.
When AAP entered into the scene in 2013 Delhi assembly elections, BJP still had a 33% vote share but AAP dented Congress’s core vote share, reducing it to 15.7%. AAP got 29.5% of the vote share, which means it took away around 15% of the vote share from Congress and the rest from floating votes.
In the 2015 assembly elections, AAP further dented Congress’ vote share, reducing it to a mere 9.7%, whereas BJP maintained it’s vote share at 32.3%. That means AAP’s vote share of 54.3% comprised of around 21% of Congress’s core vote share and the rest from floating vote share. This proves that AAP, in fact, replaced Congress in Delhi in 2015 and it hadn’t dented BJP’s core vote share.
Before coming to what would be the probable result of 2020 assembly elections, let’s look into how Delhi votes in Loksabha and Assembly elections. From past records, it can be seen that people in Delhi voted differently for assembly and general elections, except for a couple of times.
For example, in the 1952 general elections, Congress got a vote share of 39.22% losing to KMPP (with 46.72%) but in Delhi assembly elections, 1952, Congress got a 52.09% vote share.
Similarly, in 1992 general elections, Congress got 52.48% vote share compared to BJP’s 37.89% but in 1993 Delhi assembly elections, Congress got 34.48% compared to BJP’s 47.82%.
Close scrutiny will say that Delhi used to vote differently for state assembly as well as Loksbaha elections. Only in 2003 and 2008, Delhi Assembly elections and 2004 and 2009 general elections, Delhi public voted Congress for both assembly and Loksabha elections. But then, the 2013 assembly elections, 2014 general elections and 2015 assembly elections proved that Delhi again voted differently for assembly and central government. Thus, BJP’s vote share (54.77%) of 2019 general elections has nothing to do with 2020 Delhi assembly election.
As the above data suggests, BJP always has a core vote share of around 30% and both AAP and Congress combined vote share (or anti-BJP core vote share in the present context) is around 30%. Rest 40% vote share is floating vote share and may go any side, including independents.
According to me, in 2019 general elections, the BJP was able to achieve additional 24.77% vote share (apart from its 30% core vote share) from this floating 40% vote share, because of Narendra Modi’s popularity for the choice of the Prime Ministerial candidates.
At the central government level, much of anti-BJP core vote share (or that of Congress and AAP combined) thought that Congress could be more challenging to BJP than AAP. That’s why AAP ended up with 13.64% vote share, whereas Congress got 26.91% vote share, and their combined vote share was 40.55%, which means, the Congress and AAP combined, were able to get around 10.55% vote share from the 40% floating vote share.
But in 2020 Delhi Assembly elections, the floating vote share BJP got during 2019 general elections will not necessarily opt to vote for BJP again; because they are not loyal to any party. Similarly, Congress getting more vote share in 2019 compared to AAP doesn’t ensure that the anti-BJP core vote share will stick to Congress; because in Delhi assembly elections, AAP is more credible than Congress against BJP.
Thus, I would say Delhi’s 2020 assembly results very much depends upon the 40% floating vote share. The issue of Delhi is very complicated. AAP is facing anti-incumbency; BJP doesn’t have a strong organisational structure with regards to Delhi polity and Congress is the most unorganised party. Thus, what would be the result? Delhi voters, who are very smart, will definitely find it difficult to choose the right party.
Well, I am ready to make a calculated guess. If Congress really revives itself (at least getting 25% vote share) then BJP will definitely win because Congress’s gain will be AAP’s loss. So, in a triangular contest, BJP will end up with a clear majority. If Congress fails again, (like getting less than 20% vote share) then AAP will be a clear winner. If most of the floating vote share go to independents, then there would be a hung assembly.
However, as per present circumstances, I find AAP has an advantage because it has a CM face; something which BJP and Congress, both lack. Further, people stopped voting BJP in state elections just in the name of Narendra Modi. People want to see who will be the CM candidate, and as of now, neither BJP nor Congress has any credible CM faces. I think that is a major reason why AAP is a favourite at the moment.
Just one caveat; in Indian politics, especially in electoral politics, neither logic nor calculation or even opinion polls are always accurate. Thus, I might be horribly wrong in saying AAP has an advantage, although facts, data, and other logic supports this guess.