By: Sanjay Kumar, Pranav Gupta & Kushal Pal
A post-poll survey by Lokniti-CSDS finds how communities voted, which party’s voters made their choices early or late, and the educational background of voters. Data analysed by Shreyas Sardesai.
The election results mark the beginning of a new chapter in the politics of Haryana, in terms of both political competition and social alliances. The BJP gained at the cost of the two principal parties which have dominated politics in the state for close to two decades. The incumbent Congress faced a negative vote swing of more than 10 percentage points and its tally was reduced by 25 seats. The INLD, which was hitherto considered the primary alternative to the Congress, was a distant second. Other parties such as Kuldeep Bishnoi’s Haryana Janhit Congress and the BSP have been reduced to marginal players.
Haryana was an open contest in the beginning with the BJP enjoying a narrow lead over its main rival the INLD but the BJP picked up momentum as the polling day came near.
Narendra Modi’s campaign seems to have helped the BJP as its lead over its nearest rival was 16 percentage points among those who decided their choice during the campaign, as compared to only 3 points among those who decided before the campaign. The support offered by the Dera Sacha Sauda and khap panchayats, too, helped the BJP garner votes among those who made their choice close to polling.
Region By region
The BJP dominated the electoral contest in the three regions except for the Jat-dominated western Haryana. The BJP continued its dominance in north Haryana, winning 14 of the 18 seats despite a marginal drop in votes as compared to the Lok Sabha election. In east Haryana, the fight was mainly between the BJP and the Congress and the former maintained its narrow lead. Both the Congress and the BJP lost some votes in the region to the INLD and the HJC but this swing was too narrow to translate into seats.
South Haryana, known as the Ahirwal region, saw one of the most interesting contests. The BJP, which had swept the Lok Sabha election in this region by leading 20 of 23 assembly segments with a vote share of 51 per cent, faced a negative vote swing of more than 10 percentage points. But the shift benefited neither the Congress nor the INLD as the negative votes got fragmented among them and other parties. This helped the BJP minimise losses in terms of seats.
In the absence of a prominent Jat face, the BJP was not expected to do well in Jat-dominated western Haryana. Though the INLD remains the most favoured party among the Jats with an overall vote share of 42 per cent, it was unable to make substantial gains in this region as it faced a negative vote swing of more than 5 percentage points. The problem for the INLD is that unlike the Congress, its vote bank among the Jats is distributed across the state. Even with a lower vote share among Jats (24%), the Congress was able to win 12 of the high-Jat-concentration seats. The BJP swept seats where Jats could be considered swing voters and those where they were in a low proportion.
The Jat vote
Jats constitute slightly more than a fourth of the state’s population but the BJP was successful in creating a strong non-Jat social coalition as it got 47 per cent votes among the Brahmins, 55 per cent among other upper castes and 40 per cent among the OBCs. The Congress seems to have lost support among its core support group of the Dalits.
There was a three-way split in the Dalit vote among the Congress, the INLD and the BJP. Issues other than the formation of a separate Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee seem to have influenced voting decision of the Sikhs — despite high approval of this decision, the community voted primarily for the BJP and the INLD.
Urban & educated
The BJP also benefited from its popularity among urban voters. In the 11 urban seats, the BJP had a vote share of 51.5 per cent — more than 18 percentage points higher than its overall share. The party won 10 of these 11 seats.
Findings of the post poll survey conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies indicate that the BJP performed much better among educated voters. The party polled 45 per cent of the votes among the college-educated as compared to 24 per cent among non-literate voters. Even among school-educated voters, 34 per cent voted for the BJP.
Congress and INLD
The gap between the Congress and the INLD is not substantial and the Congress could have performed much better had the election taken place at a different time.
More than 40 percent of the respondents felt that the condition of basic services like electricity, roads and hospitals had improved during the last five years.
What seems to have hurt the prospects of the Congress is the negative perception of the voters about the work done by the Congress-led UPA government the Centre. A large proportion of voters did not want to vote for the Congress as they blamed it for various corruption scandals.
While the Congress has been thrown out of power after being in government for ten years, there is a bigger worry for the INLD which has been out of power for last 10 years.
It will remain out of power and also faces a leadership vacuum as its leader Om Prakash Chautala and his elder son Ajay Chautala are in jail.
Sanjay Kumar is director, CSDS, Kushal Pal teaches political science at Dyal Singh College (Karnal), Pranav Gupta is associated with Lokniti, CSDS