Even before the results of the ongoing assembly elections, the rump that the Congress has been reduced to is evident from the fact that just 6 per cent of India’s population now live in states ruled exclusively by the Congress, the lowest since Independence.
Combined with states where the Congress is part of a ruling coalition, this goes up to 15 per cent of the country’s population — again a historic low.
Successive electoral debacles have translated into one more alarming fact for the Congress — that the cumulative population of the 10 states under its control (on its own and through an alliances) is actually less that that of the country’s most populous state: 19.98 crore in Uttar Pradesh.
Of the 10 states that the Congress continues to hold on to, very few are major states, such as Karnataka, Kerala and Jharkhand. Equally significant is the fact that the country’s fastest growing states (most of which are the least developed BIMARU states), as well as major states that are hubs of industrial activity (including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu) and hence a magnet for those migrating from less developed states, are out of the Congress’s grasp.
As a consequence, the prospect of coming back to power on the basis of showing high growth achievement (though on a low base) or by continuing to dominate states that lead industrial activity becomes that much more stiff a challenge.
For the BJP, after its gains in Haryana and Maharashtra, the seven states where it has a majority on its own account for over 30.26 per cent of the country’s population. Inclusive of the four states where it is ruling in alliance, this goes up to 39.81 per cent (the population of undivided Andhra Pradesh has been used, as per Census 2011 data).
Compounding the Congress’s woes are the statistics released by McKinsey & Co last Thursday, which projected that India’s growth over the next decade will be led primarily by eight high-performing states — Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Only two of these are under Congress rule now — one directly and the other through an alliance partner. These states, according to projections by the consulting firm in a new report titled “India’s Economic Geography in 2025: states, clusters and cities”, will account for 52 per cent of incremental GDP between 2012-2025.
The study projects that five states — West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, 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. All of these states are outside of the Congress’s fold.