The Election Calculus
The analysis lays bare the harsh realities on the ground that will be confronting the Congress and the BJP in the forthcoming elections
Vijay Sanghvi Delhi
Emergence of a new class of voters aspiring for their share of power and having a numerical strength to assert their position has certainly changed dynamics of politics in India in the last two decades. It not only resulted in delivering highly fragmented popular verdicts since the 1989 election but also in heavy erosion of vote base of both the main parties, the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that dominated in power corridors for five decades. In the seven last elections no party reached the half way mark in the Lok Sabha to enable it to form a government without having to share power with other parties in coalition politics. The Congress strength had swung between 242 seats in the 1989 election and 113 a decade later in 1999. The BJP was never able to reach the 200 mark. The steady growth of regional parties in several states compelled national parties to accept their subordinate status to the strong regional parties in few states as a precondition for the seat adjustments in the respective states.
The two main parties have steadily shrunk in their territorial and social reach. The regional parties took away not only territories but also social blocks that were earlier voting for either of them. The strong presence of regional parties in 15 large states with a total of 445 seats in Lok Sabha is today a harsh reality with which two parties have to grapple with. They confront each other without the presence of a third party only in seven states with 107 seats in Lok Sabha. The formation of a state party in Gujarat by the breakaway group from the BJP led by the former chief minister Keshubhai Patel reduced number of states without a third party to six, although the emergence of Keshubhai Patel edifice has made no impact on either of two main parties in Gujarat during the assembly election in December 2012. Keshubhai could win only two seats without palpable damage to Narendra Modi. The Congress cut into the Modi Empire to win six seats more on its own strength.
It is interesting exercise to classify states in various categories according to developments of the last two decades. It can give possible clues to reach any anticipation with certainty to an extent though elections are not a simple mathematical calculation or permutation and combination based on past performances. There are several hidden factors that also play an important role. Even emergence of strong personalities can to a certain extent affect fortunes. Of course no such emergence is on horizons as of today when the elections are less than 10 months away.
States can be divided in three main categories. It is not necessary to include few small states in the East and also union territories of Andaman, Lakshadweep, Dadra Nagar haveli and Diu. Pondichery is included in Tamilnadu and Chandigarh in Punjab for sake of simplification. They account for a total of just 16 seats.
A: States with strong state party with a strong leaders thrown by the electorates in seven elections.
Uttar Pradesh: 80 seats in Lok Sabha.