There is a common belief that the result of the 2015 election reflects a class divide in the city. While class does remain an important social cleavage in the city, commentators have exaggerated its role in determining the electoral outcome. Data from this post-poll survey clearly shows that the massive victory of the Aam Aadmi Party is a result of both a high consolidation of lower-class voters in its favour and the party’s success in making inroads among the upper class.
The AAP had a massive 44 percentage point lead over the BJP among poor voters. The BJP’s vote share among the poor was just 22 per cent, while 66 per cent of them voted for the AAP. The gap between the two parties among the middle class might be relatively lower (16 percentage points) but it is significant in terms of its effect. The BJP performed best among the upper class voters as the gap narrows down to just 4 percentage points (see graphs).
A similar pattern is also seen in terms of where voters live. The AAP had a vote share of 51 per cent in Rural Delhi, which the BJP had swept even in 2013. There is strong support for the AAP in the lower-income settlements — LIG DDA colonies and JJ clusters and slums. The party had a vote share of 59 per cent in the former, five points more than its average vote share in the state, and swept the latter with close to two-thirds of the votes. Lower support for the BJP among the middle and lower classes is also reflected spatially as the party performed poorly in the less developed colonies. It is apparent that the BJP’s claim of regularising unauthorised colonies failed to enthuse the voters. The contest between the BJP and the AAP was tight only in the posh areas (see table).
The data suggests that one should not over-read the voting patterns of various economic sections as a “class divide”. First, the voting patterns of the poor and rich are not divergent. Though relatively lower, the middle classes too supported the AAP in large numbers. The AAP has managed to create the kind of cross-class support that the Congress used to enjoy in the city before 2013. The BJP, on the other hand, has been left with only its core support group among the upper and upper-middle classes.
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Second, it would be naïve to say that class politics would exist in an environment in which all parties are trying to build a cross-class coalition. If cheaper electricity and water were Arvind Kejriwal’s main pitch, the BJP too targeted the same constituency by promising ‘Jahaan jhuggi, wahin makaan’ and benefits from central schemes like Jan Dhan Yojana. The AAP may have got more votes from the poor, but the fact that voters from middle and upper classes too voted for it means that it would be difficult for the AAP to engage in politics of the poor and ignore its middle-class base.
By: Sanjay Kumar & Pranav Gupta
The authors are associated with Lokniti, CSDS