Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg

How welfare schemes played a role in BJP’s win

Voters receiving benefits from the BJP’s flagship schemes were more likely to vote for the party, suggests a new study

MUMBAI : In the 2019 general election campaign, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) constantly highlighted the achievements of its welfare schemes such as Ujjwala and Jan Dhan Yojana. How significant were these in the mandate it received? Research suggests its flagship schemes, though not the decisive factor, did help the party return to power.

In the study, Rajeshwari Deshpande and others use post-poll survey data collected by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) to study the views of Indian voters on various welfare schemes. The results show that the schemes introduced by it since 2014 have relatively high coverage. For instance, 34% of respondents had received cylinders under the Ujjwala scheme. Even existing schemes like the public distribution system (PDS) had high coverage (44%).

Respondents credited the Union government for welfare schemes in the 2019 post-poll survey as opposed to the state government in previous years. They also showed greater awareness about different schemes and were even able to distinguish between schemes implemented by the Centre and those by the states. This reflected in the electoral choices of the respondents.

While the BJP and its allies benefitted from their flagship schemes, they were less likely to win votes for schemes like PDS and pension for which beneficiaries gave credit to state governments. Despite introducing Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the Congress was less likely to win votes from it. Most MGNREGS beneficiary votes were dispersed among regional parties. In the long run, welfare schemes are no longer associated with the party who introduced the scheme. The authors argue that their results suggest a shift in Indian politics away from ‘patronage democracy’ to ‘programmatic politics’

Also read: The BJP’s Welfare Schemes: Did They Make a Difference in the 2019 Elections?

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