Culmination of 2016 also marks the completion of half of Narendra Modi government’s term in office. How has the BJP fared politically after Modi swept the 2014 general elections?
Eleven assembly elections have taken place after the Modi government assumed power in May 2014. None of these states had an incumbent BJP government. In five of these states today, the BJP is either running a government on its own or is part of the ruling alliance. So, has the BJP gained unambiguously under Modi’s leadership? The answer is not that simple, shows an analysis of BJP’s vote share and seat share in these states.
A comparison of state-wise vote shares for assembly elections held before 2014 Lok Sabha elections, 2014 parliamentary elections and assembly polls held after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections shows that the BJP’s popularity has been increasing under Narendra Modi’s leadership. In 10 out of 11 states, which have gone to polls after 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP’s vote share increased in comparison to the previous assembly elections. Delhi is the only exception to this trend. When seen with the fact that the BJP’s vote share in 2014 Lok Sabha elections increased in comparison to pre-2014 assembly elections in all these states, Modi’s popularity seems to be the driving factor behind BJP’s rising graph.
A look at seat share data gives another important insight in the BJP’s future prospects. Even an increase in vote share is no guarantee for electoral victories. For example, despite increasing its vote share in the 2015 assembly elections in Bihar by around 8 percentage points, the BJP suffered a decline in number of seats. This dichotomy is explained by the fact that it contested larger number of seats than earlier when it was a junior alliance partner of Janata Dal (United). Although the total vote share increased due to more number of seats contested, the strike rate—seats won per seat contested—came down drastically.
2019 is still far away, and the political fallout of things like demonetisation would only be known after results of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur elections scheduled for early next year. However, the experience so far suggests that it is either a formidable political alliance (like the grand alliance in Bihar) or a complete redefining of politics (like the Aam Admi Party in Delhi), which poses a threat to what is otherwise a more popular the BJP than its pre-2014 version.