Having handed the CPM a crushing defeat in Tripura and placed itself in a pivotal position in Nagaland, where it is likely to continue in government, the BJP is set to increase the number of states it rules — either by itself or as part of an alliance — to 21. These states, including Tripura and Nagaland, are home to over 70 per cent of India’s population. The situation in Meghalaya, the third state where Assembly elections were held, was fluid on Saturday night.
The last time a political party or group had this big a footprint across India was a quarter century ago. In end-1993, after a round of state elections, the Congress held 16 of India’s then 26 states — 15 on its own; one in alliance. The BJP has now established a strong presence across large parts of the Northeast, one of the two regions (the other being the South) where it has traditionally been weak.
In 2014, when the Narendra Modi government came to power in Delhi, the BJP ruled just seven states. Over 67 per cent of MPs who entered Lok Sabha that year belong to the 21 states where the BJP now holds or shares power. In 2014, the Congress was in power in 13 states. It is now down to four — Punjab, Karnataka, Mizoram, and Puducherry.
Going by data from Census 2011, the cumulative population of NDA-ruled states is 849,825,030 (70.18 per cent of India’s population), which is over nine times that of the states ruled by the Congress and its allies (91,183,794, or 7.53%; not counting Meghalaya).
Seven of the country’s 10 most populous states as per Census 2011 are now NDA-ruled: Uttar Pradesh (199 million), Maharashtra (112 million), Bihar (104 million), Andhra Pradesh (84 million), Madhya Pradesh (72 million), Rajasthan (68 million), and Gujarat (60 million). The other three states are Trinamool Congress-ruled West Bengal, Karnataka, and AIADMK-ruled Tamil Nadu.
The BJP now rules all four of the original BIMARU states, which are the fastest-growing, as well as states that are hubs of industrial activity (including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Andhra Pradesh). This will come in handy when the BJP tries to project high growth achievement — though on a low base — in the 2019 general elections.
McKinsey & Co statistics project India’s growth over the next decade to be led primarily by eight high-performing states — Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Six of these states are NDA-ruled, the Congress rules none. These states, according to projections by the consulting firm in a new report, ‘India’s Economic Geography in 2025: States, Clusters and Cities’, will account for 52 per cent of incremental GDP between 2012 and 2025.
The study also projects that five states — West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan — will be able to lift 18 million households from poverty, and account for 51 million, or 30 per cent, of all neo-middle class families in India. Three of these states are currently BJP-ruled.