The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the undisputed winner in elections 2017. While the verdict is a big endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is worth looking at how the party has performed in the constituencies of its important leaders. After all, much was being made of the fact that a number of cabinet ministers were campaigning in Uttar Pradesh elections.
Mint has identified nine high-profile Lok Sabha seats, which elected members who are either cabinet ministers in the Modi government or have been in the news due to their aggressive Hindutva posturing.
The five BJP constituencies include Narendra Modi’s own Varanasi constituency, Rajnath Singh’s Lucknow, Uma Bharti’s Jhansi, Maneka Gandhi’s Pilibhit and Kalraj Mishra’s Deoria. Also considered was Bhatinda, which the BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal won in 2014. Among the hardliners considered were Fatehpur’s member of Parliament Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj and Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath.
The biggest gain among the cabinet minister constituencies was for Uma Bharti’s Jhansi. BJP’s vote share here has risen to 46.08% in 2017 from 23.69% in 2012 and 43.6% in 2014. The vote share in assembly elections have been calculated by combining the assembly segments which lie within a parliamentary constituency for each constituency.
Given the fact that the BJP has done so well in the UP elections and lost Punjab elections, the more interesting question is to determine whether the constituencies of these ministers/leaders have performed better or worse than average. To determine this, we have compared BJP’s vote share in these Lok Sabha segments with the party’s average vote share in the concerned state. Each of their vote share was as good or in most cases significantly better than their party’s average vote share in the state.
The contrast between the BJP and its rivals becomes clear when we look at the trends in the constituencies of high-profile opposition leaders. BJP’s vote share in the 2012 Uttar Pradesh elections in Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi, Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareli and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Azamgarh ranged between 3% and 14%. This has now risen to 20-36%.
BJP’s victory has made a lot of opposition leaders despondent. National Conference leader Omar Abdullah has hinted that the opposition might not be in reckoning for 2019 elections, and should start preparing for 2024. The scale of the BJP’s victory certainly calls for introspection among its opponents. Whether their individual efforts are taking their parties’ graph up or down could be the starting point for such introspection.