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Home >Politics >Policy >2019 elections: Deciphering BJP’s West Bengal vote share target

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah last week set his party’s rank and file in West Bengal a target of 15 million votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Based on the votes polled in the 2016 West Bengal assembly elections, this translates to a 28% vote share.

Firstly, how much distance does the BJP have to travel? The last two elections in West Bengal have been the best for BJP in the state: 5.5 million votes and 10.2% vote share in the 2016 assembly elections, and 8.6 million votes and 17% vote share in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections (see graphs 1 and 2).

Secondly, how many Lok Sabha seats might a 28% vote share fetch it? If the previous four elections are a marker, at one level, it depends on whether the leading parties can stitch an alliance. In 1998, in the absence of alliances, Trinamool won eight seats with a 26% share. In 2009, when the Trinamool and Congress struck a pre-poll alliance, the Trinamool finished second to CPM in vote share (33.1% versus 31.2%), but ended up winning five times as many seats (see graph 3). So, even if the BJP’s vote share surges in West Bengal, it might need a fragmented opposition to win seats.

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