The Tuesday results of five Vidhan Sabha elections saw Congress take over three BJP-ruled states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, where they are set to form the government in the coming days. The victory of the Congress in the Hindi heartland, something that has been the stronghold of the Bharatiya Janata Party for long, will not only dent the ruling party’s morale, it could also adversely affect the BJP in the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
An analysis of constituency-wise poll data of the Assembly elections by Indian Express showed that BJP may end up losing 31 Lok Sabha seats in the upcoming elections. The party had earlier won 62 out of 65 Lok Sabha seats across these three states in the 2014 elections.
In Madhya Pradesh, Congress secured 40.9% of the vote share despite winning 114 seats against 41% for the BJP which bagged 109 seats. In Rajasthan as well, the Congress has 39.3% of the vote share and won 99 seats, while BJP got 38.8%, winning 73 seats. The close margin between the two parties shows that though Congress made gains in both the states, BJP is still very much a competitor, and can certainly not be ruled out.
Yet, the damage has been extensive. Across the three Hindi heartland states, BJP lost almost 48% of all the seats it had won in 2013 – which amounts to 180 assembly seats. Meanwhile, Congress which has been on a losing streak since 2014, sent out a reminder to the ruling party that they have the fighting spirit intact. In fact, Congress gained 163 Assembly seats, which is 138 per cent more than what they had after the 2013 assembly elections.
According to the constituency-wise votes polled in the three states, Congress is set to sweep 10 of the 11 Lok Sabha seats in Chhattisgarh. In Madhya Pradesh, the Lok Sabha seat share of BJP might come down to 17 out the 29 seats, from 27 in 2014. In Rajasthan, BJP may be reduced to 13 LS seats in 2019, as against its sweep of all the 25 seats in the state in 2014.
This fall in BJP votes in the three states holds special significance, because in two other major states of Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, rivals SP and BSP in UP and Congress and JDS in Karnataka, have decided to join hands and lock horns with the party. An LS-wise pooling of BSP, SP and Congress’ votes in UP 2017 assembly election suggests that BJP might end up losing as many as 50 Lok Sabha seats in the state if the rivals close ranks with them.
Similarly, another Lok Sabha-wise pooling of JDS and Congress votes in Karnataka shows that BJP might end up winning only six of 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka – which is a massive slide from it winning 17 seats in the 2014 LS elections.
The vote shares suggest that the BJP may end up losing as many as 92 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 elections.
However, no two elections are the same. So, the projection from one election, might not hold true for another and is a mere weigh out the contest. So the estimates mentioned here do not reflect the actual polls that will follow, as that will depend on the nature of the contest and the contestants.
Besides losing power, these 2018 Assembly election results are sure to embolden attempts by opposition parties to stitch together an alliance. The poll outcomes in three states has removed the halo of invincibility around Narendra Modi under whose leadership, the party went on to form governments in 14 of the 22 assembly elections held across the country. The success of Congress in the Assembly elections has put BJP in the corner over the agricultural distress in many of the largely agrarian states of the country and its failure to deliver on promises. This might even emerge as the main theme to corner the ruling party in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.