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Politics India

Assembly numbers bust the hype of BJP's electoral dominance

Suhel Banerjee 14 Nov 2019
BJP
 
With each election that the BJP wins, the more invincible it looks. Experts go to town gushing about its grass roots work  (with or without RSS help). Claims fly thick and fast about just how huge BJP's election machinery is (panna pramukhs et al). Its' superior strategies are discussed ad infinitum. Liberals, lefties and other 'anti-nationals' are pushed further into despondency. Leaders of the Indian National Congress find another reason to polish their post-retirement plans. Is this then the 'era of Hindutva', marked by the invincibility of Modi-Shah duo ? Is the battle for a just and equitable India already lost ? While commentators of all hues would like us to believe in such apocalyptic predictions, facts and numbers tell a very different story. 
 
Out of a total of 4120 assembly seats in India (spread across states and UTs) the BJP occupies only 1321 seats. That is, BJP has won only 1/3rd of all Assembly seats. Barring West Bengal, Delhi and Assam where the BJP is expected to make some gains, it has won, lost (in short maxed out) in all other states. Remember, this is at the height of the Modi-Shah Era of Hindutva. Even with the other parties of NDA (475 seats), the number adds up to only 1769 seats (or 43.5% percent of the seats). Congress (833 seats) and Other UPA parties (327) fall short but reasonably so. Far from being 'Congress-mukt', numbers seem to indicate a fairly robust democratic system at work. And when seen with smaller, regional parties under 'Others' (1026 seats), the BJP does not seem in a commanding position at all. If anything, the power of a combined opposition is clear as daylight. 
 
Assembly Seats BJP NDA Congress UPA Others
4120 1321 475 833 327 1026
 
 
Parties %
BJP 32
NDA 43.6
Congress 20.2
UPA 28.1
Others 24.9
 
So how did the stories of 'invincibility' gain currency. As any sportsman knows, half the battle is won by cowing down opponents even before the game begins. The chest thumping propaganda of BJP's popularity leading to electoral triumphs seems like a well thought out strategy to bully an already dispirited opposition. But look closely and the truth appears even more mind boggling - despite cornering more than 80% of secret political funding (via electoral bonds), elaborate, hyper-local ad campaigns, deploying whatsapp hacking softwares and the contributions of backward bending pillars of democracy, the BJP seems not to have swayed 2 out of 3 Indian Voters. The man (and woman) on the street is not impressed. In fact, He (She), while giving Narendra Modi (and Amit Shah) a wide berth at the center is also firmly keeping a check on BJP's powers. This is reiterated by him(her) in election after election in states across India. So, is the opposition listening ?

Assembly numbers bust the hype of BJP's electoral dominance

BJP
 
With each election that the BJP wins, the more invincible it looks. Experts go to town gushing about its grass roots work  (with or without RSS help). Claims fly thick and fast about just how huge BJP's election machinery is (panna pramukhs et al). Its' superior strategies are discussed ad infinitum. Liberals, lefties and other 'anti-nationals' are pushed further into despondency. Leaders of the Indian National Congress find another reason to polish their post-retirement plans. Is this then the 'era of Hindutva', marked by the invincibility of Modi-Shah duo ? Is the battle for a just and equitable India already lost ? While commentators of all hues would like us to believe in such apocalyptic predictions, facts and numbers tell a very different story. 
 
Out of a total of 4120 assembly seats in India (spread across states and UTs) the BJP occupies only 1321 seats. That is, BJP has won only 1/3rd of all Assembly seats. Barring West Bengal, Delhi and Assam where the BJP is expected to make some gains, it has won, lost (in short maxed out) in all other states. Remember, this is at the height of the Modi-Shah Era of Hindutva. Even with the other parties of NDA (475 seats), the number adds up to only 1769 seats (or 43.5% percent of the seats). Congress (833 seats) and Other UPA parties (327) fall short but reasonably so. Far from being 'Congress-mukt', numbers seem to indicate a fairly robust democratic system at work. And when seen with smaller, regional parties under 'Others' (1026 seats), the BJP does not seem in a commanding position at all. If anything, the power of a combined opposition is clear as daylight. 
 
Assembly Seats BJP NDA Congress UPA Others
4120 1321 475 833 327 1026
 
 
Parties %
BJP 32
NDA 43.6
Congress 20.2
UPA 28.1
Others 24.9
 
So how did the stories of 'invincibility' gain currency. As any sportsman knows, half the battle is won by cowing down opponents even before the game begins. The chest thumping propaganda of BJP's popularity leading to electoral triumphs seems like a well thought out strategy to bully an already dispirited opposition. But look closely and the truth appears even more mind boggling - despite cornering more than 80% of secret political funding (via electoral bonds), elaborate, hyper-local ad campaigns, deploying whatsapp hacking softwares and the contributions of backward bending pillars of democracy, the BJP seems not to have swayed 2 out of 3 Indian Voters. The man (and woman) on the street is not impressed. In fact, He (She), while giving Narendra Modi (and Amit Shah) a wide berth at the center is also firmly keeping a check on BJP's powers. This is reiterated by him(her) in election after election in states across India. So, is the opposition listening ?

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