A new survey has projected a hung Parliament in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections despite the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerging as the single largest party with 145-155 seats. This is because the Congress party, despite its poor governance record, will lose ground, yet come a close second with 130-140 seats.
The survey conducted by Edelweiss Financial Services Ltd, an investment advisory firm, also said the main opposition party would improve on its 2009 performance by consolidating its core constituencies of upper caste, urban and educated voters and make gains in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
The Congress may do better in Karnataka and Bihar but the snapping of its alliance with the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu will weaken its prospects in these states, the poll said.
The survey conducted in 10 big states—Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan—also concluded that the relevance of caste, the importance of pre-poll alliances, the role of governance and the electoral cycles of the states were the key themes that provided the basic framework to analyse the contours of electoral politics in India.
The analysis of the ground-level situation in Uttar Pradesh, the politically crucial state that sends 80 lawmakers to the 545-member Lok Sabha, said that the BJP is expected to make gains by consolidating upper caste votes, mainly due to the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who heads its campaign team.
The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP), which has 22 seats in the Lok Sabha, may gain minority votes, but lose Dalit and upper caste votes it won in the 2012 assembly election. The survey said the SP could win 25-27 seats, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 21-23 and the BJP 21-23, leaving just 7-9 for the Congress that had won 23 seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
In Maharashtra, which has 40 Lok Sabha seats, the opposition Shiv Sena and BJP, which are alliance partners, may cash in on the anti-incumbency factor and win 10-12 and 15-17 seats, respectively. But the Maharahstra Navnirman Sena, a splinter group of the Sena, could be a spoiler and split the opposition alliance’s vote.
In Andhra Pradesh, where the Congress is struggling to resolve a crisis arising out of the demand for a separate Telangana state, the ruling party may face a major electoral setback because of the newly formed YSR Congress. The Congress is not expected to improve its seat position against the BJP in Madhya Pradesh and may lose its dominance in Rajasthan, where runs the government, to the same party. But its recent victory in the Karnataka state elections may be repeated in the parliamentary election. The split in the Janata Dal (United)-BJP alliance in Bihar is likely to help the BJP mobilise upper caste votes, while a possible alliance with the Congress may help JD-U to consolidate minority support.
The analysis said Tamil Nadu’s ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is likely to sweep the parliamentary election due to its alliances as well as governance record. In Gujarat, where the Modi-led BJP has been dominating politics, the society is “fairly fragmented in BJP’s favour.”
The survey said the Left Front that ruled West Bengal for more than three decades before being bested by the TMC in 2011 will regain some of its lost ground. It tally may go up to 21-23 from the present 15 seats in the state.
G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, a psephologist who works closely with the BJP, said it was too early to gauge the public mood.
“Election is still months away and you don’t get the public mood so clearly. This has been the trend in the past too—the public mood is more visible (closer) towards the elections. Anti-incumbency could not get factored into the opinion polls now. However, it reflects the real mood. Unlike in 2004 and 09, the public anger against the government is visible even now,” he said.
Balveer Arora, chairman of Centre for Multilevel Federalism, a New Delhi-based think tank, agreed that it was too early to reach a conclusion. “What the Congress is trying to do now is to limit the BJP’s growth in its stronghold. The ruling party is wooing the tribal votes that had shifted to the BJP. Ultimately, the pre-poll alliances matter—whether the Congress will be able to go as UPA with more partners, that is where it is expecting to trump BJP.”