An analysis by The Indian Express of constituency-wise poll data of the assembly elections in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh shows the BJP may lose as many as 31 Lok Sabha seats if the latest revealed vote preferences hold true for respective Lok Sabha seats. This is a substantial dip given the fact that BJP had won 62 of 65 Lok Sabha seats across these states in 2014.
BJP leaders sought to ring-fence their government at the Centre from the assembly election results. Their argument: Yes, the Congress made gains but the fact that it was so close in Madhya Pradesh and not so bad in Rajasthan shows that the party may be down but it’s certainly not out.
The reality could be a little more complicated.
In the three Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the BJP has lost as many as 180 assembly seats — almost 48 per cent of what it held in 2013.
The Congress, in contrast, which has been on a losing streak since its rout in 2014 — barring a few exceptions — sent a reminder of its fighting capacity against the BJP ahead of 2019. In fact, the Congress gained 163 Assembly seats (more than 138 per cent) over what it held after the 2013 elections.
What the maps show
The three maps used in this article project Assembly election data from November-December 2018 on to Lok Sabha constituencies in the three heartland states. This is a hypothetical exercise, and indicative only of a broad trend. No two elections are the same, and Assembly elections are different from Parliamentary elections.
According to the party-wise votes polled for each constituency-wise released by the Election Commission until tonight, the Congress is all set to sweep Chhattisgarh winning 10 of 11 Lok Sabha seats. In Rajasthan, the BJP may shrink to 13 Lok Sabha seats as against its 25-seat sweep in 2014. Similarly, the BJP may be reduced to 17 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh as against the 27 it won in 2014.
This slide in BJP’s votes in the Hindi heartland holds additional significance given the political realignment against it in another two major states – Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka — where arch rival SP and BSP (in UP) and Congress and JDS (in Karnataka) have decided to close ranks against the BJP.
A similar Lok Sabha-wise pooling of BSP and SP-Congress’s votes in the 2017 Assembly election suggests that BJP may lose as many as 50 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh if its rivals close ranks for 2019.
Likewise, a Lok Sabha-wise pooling of Congress and JD(S) votes in each Assembly segment corresponding to respective Lok Sabha seats translates into the BJP winning only six of 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka. This is a massive drop for the BJP from its tally of 17 in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. In all, the BJP may lose as many as 92 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 elections.
The caveat, however, is that no two elections are the same, the projection from one election to the other is merely a guide to the shape of the contest and cannot replace the context and nature of the actual contests.
These estimates, therefore, provide a sense of the political challenge but are not reflective of actual polls that will follow.
Whether electoral arithmetic is translated on the ground depends on a range of factors including how cadres of two political parties work together and the response of their support bases.
Beyond this state-specific arithmetic, the results could assume national significance.
For, they dent the impression of the BJP’s invincibility ahead of 2019. Given how the BJP went on to the form/join governments in 14 of 22 Assembly elections held since 2014, today’s results constitute a significant setback. Wresting power from the BJP also gives the Congress a strong case in its attempt to emerge as a magnet for Opposition unity.
So far, the Opposition has been criticising the BJP alleging it has failed to deliver on its 2014 promises but a string of BJP successes across the country shielded the party from these barbs. However, the success of the Opposition today with a clear narrative putting the BJP on the mat over rural distress in largely agricultural states has the potential to emerge as a theme to corner the ruling party in 2019.
Analyses of the 2018 assembly election results by Manoj CG, Lalmani Verma, Sowmiya Ashok, Hemang Kumar & Karishma Mehrotra