Will a single party get majority for the first time in Jharkhand? | Analysis
The 2019 assembly elections will be the fourth in Jharkhand since the state was created in 2000. The current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government is only the first to have completed a full term in the state. The state’s voters have never given a majority in an assembly of 81 members to any party since its creation.
In fact, even before Jharkhand was created, no party had been able to muster a majority in the 81 assembly constituencies (ACs) which were carved out of Bihar to form the new state since 1990. These statistics underline the political instability which characterises the state.
In 2014, the BJP and its alliance partner All Jharkhand Students’ Union party (AJSU) were able to get a simple majority of 42 MLAs in the assembly. The BJP despite having swept the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections — it won 12 out of the 14 LS seats in the state on its own — was wise in arriving at a pre-poll alliance with AJSU.
But even the 2014 elections did not see a concentration just behind the winning party in Jharkhand. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), which finished as the main opposition party in 2014 had a vote share of 20.4%, the highest for an opposition party since the 2005 assembly elections. (See Chart 1)
The political concentration in Jharkhand seen in the 2014 assembly elections is also captured in another important metric: median Effective Number of Parties (ENOP) in the state. ENOP is the reciprocal of the sum of squares of vote shares of all candidates in a given constituency. This number increases with the fragmentation of votes among multiple candidates.
Put simply, the lower the ENOP figure, the higher the political concentration, which is to say that more people are voting for fewer parties. For example, if there are three candidates in an election and they receive 40%, 31% and 29% of the votes, ENOP would be 2.9. However, if the distribution were to change to 80%, 15% and 5%, ENOP would reduce to 1.5.
Median ENOP in the 81 ACs which were carved out to create Jharkhand had been increasing since 1977 and peaked in 1995. It has been decreasing since then and the 2014 figure was the lowest since the 2005 elections. To be sure, Jharkhand still had a higher median ENOP than all other states in India in the latest round of assembly elections. (Chart 2A and 2B)
Will Jharkhand continue its trend of political concentration in the 2019 elections?
The BJP is fighting the elections on its own even though it had an alliance with the AJSUP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The Congress and the JMM have struck an alliance along with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
However, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha - Prajatantrik (JVM-P) led by the former chief minister Babulal Marandi, is contesting the elections on its own this time. JVM-P was a part of the JMM-Congress-RJD alliance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. JVM-P has had a vote share of about 10% in the two assembly elections it has contested. Although it could win only 11 and 8 ACs in the 2009 and 2014 elections, it played spoiler in 22 ACs in 2014.
A party is said to have played spoiler if it finished third or below with a vote share more than or equal to the victory margin. Unless the JVM improves significantly on its political performance, Jharkhand’s movement towards bipolar politics might continue in the 2019 elections that begin today.
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- On Friday, a social organisation against corruption, Satta Panchayat Iyakkam joined hands with MNM. Former MLA Pazha Karuppiah who has been with both the DMK and AIADMK also joined MNM and will be contesting on the fledgling party’s ticket.