Assembly elections 2018: BJP tweaks strategy as it looks to retain Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh

Assembly elections 2018: The strategy of not repeating candidates has helped the BJP in its strongholds such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat.

assembly elections Updated: Dec 06, 2018 16:35 IST
BJP,Madhya Pradesh,Chhattisgarh
In Rajasthan, the share of candidates repeated by the BJP has dropped by three percentage points. (Mohd Zakir/HT Photo)

In recent years, one of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) defining electoral traits in states where it has returned to power is frugality in giving tickets to the same candidate from the same constituency. The most extreme example of this was the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections in 2017, where the party dropped all sitting councillors, and managed to win back all three — north, south and east — MCDs.

However, this time the party seems to have tweaked this strategy in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where it has been running governments since 2003. The share of candidates repeated from the same constituencies in these two states is considerably higher than it was in the 2008 and 2013 elections.

This is in contrast with the trend in Gujarat, where a lower share of candidates were repeated in the 2017 elections compared to 2012. In Rajasthan, however, the share of candidates repeated by the BJP has dropped by three percentage points. However, the BJP was in opposition before 2013 in the state.

See chart 1 for share of repeated candidates by the BJP in MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

The BJP’s numbers for repeat candidates in states where it has returned to power is perceptibly lower than those for other parties in their respective bastions. For example, in Odisha, the Biju Janata Dal repeated 41% of its candidates in 2009 and 63% in 2014. In recent years, the Congress has not returned to power in a major state.

But in Assam, where it won a third term in 2011, it repeated 51% of candidates; even in 2016, when it lost the state after 15 years, the Congress repeated 45% of its candidates.

The strategy of not repeating candidates has helped the BJP in its strongholds such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat. This can be seen from the fact that the average position — winners would end up with position 1 — of new candidates has been lower than repeat candidates in the previous two elections in these states (See chart 2). However, in Rajasthan, BJP’s repeat candidates fared better than new faces in the 2013 elections.

These statistics suggest that the BJP has taken a risk in repeating a bigger share of candidates in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and lower share of candidates in Rajasthan. Will the change in strategy work or backfire? We will know on 11 December.

Data source: Trivedi Centre for Political Data

(www.howindialives.com is a database and search engine for public data.)

First Published: Dec 06, 2018 07:21 IST