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Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Will the capital be a cakewalk for BJP?

Delhi has seen drastic swings in fortunes of all three major parties since the 2013 assembly elections, when AAP made its political debut.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 23, 2019 07:33 IST
Roshan Kishore
Roshan Kishore
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
BJP,Delhi,Congress
The AAP suffered a 28 percentage point decline in its 2015 vote share, and it was the Congress which gained the most in terms of votes.(HT Photo)

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress have finally failed to agree on an alliance formula in Delhi. This means that the national capital is headed for a triangular fight in the Lok Sabha elections. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to be the biggest beneficiary of this eventuality. It currently holds all seven Lok Sabha seats from Delhi. A combined vote share of AAP and Congress would have been able to defeat the BJP in six out of seven parliamentary constituencies (PCs) in the 2014 elections. Does a three-way contest mean that the BJP can hope to replicate its 2014 performance in 2019 as well?

Delhi has seen drastic swings in fortunes of all three major parties since the 2013 assembly elections, when AAP made its political debut. All these parties polled at least one fourth of the popular vote in the 2013 assembly elections. In 2014, both the AAP and the BJP gained at the cost of the Congress. Simple calculations based on change in vote shares suggest that not only did the BJP usurp a bigger section of the Congress voters, but it was also successful in consolidating the floating voters behind it.

Things changed radically once again in the 2015 assembly elections, when the AAP managed to make a dent in everybody else’s (Congress, BJP, and floating votes) support base. The 2017 Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections saw an even bigger upset.

The AAP suffered a 28 percentage point decline in its 2015 vote share, and it was the Congress which gained the most in terms of votes. While the BJP finished first with a combined vote share of 36% in the three MCDs (North, South and East), the difference between the vote shares of the AAP and the Congress came down to just five percentage points. To be sure, the MCD polls do not represent all of Delhi, as there are two other civic bodies – New Delhi Municipal Corporation and Delhi Cantonment Board – in the city state. The total votes polled in the MCD elections were 7.1 million, which is significantly lower than the polling in 2014 Lok Sabha (8.2 million) and 2015 assembly (8.9 million) polls.

One way to look at these past results could be to argue that voters in Delhi have radically different preferences at different political tiers. They preferred Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister, Arvind Kejriwal for Chief Minister and were quite divided when it came to civic bodies.

The fact that the BJP has not been able to repeat its 2014 vote share performance in subsequent polls in Delhi also underlines the importance of a Modi wave (or lack of it) in the 2019 elections. If voters once again shift their loyalties in favour of the BJP like they did in 2014, the BJP will most likely retain all seven seats in Delhi comfortably. Inability to do so might create trouble for it in some seats.

Another factor worth keeping in mind while analysing the Delhi elections would be voter turnout. Delhi saw a voting turnout of 65.1% in the 2014 elections, which was fourteen percentage points more than the 2009 figure. This was much more than the increase in all-India voting turnout, which increased from 58.2% in 2009 to 66.4% in 2014. It could be argued that the entry of a new political party was a key factor in increasing voter turnout. If polling percentage were to significantly increase in Delhi in these elections, it could bring another element of uncertainty to the final outcome.

First Published: Apr 23, 2019 06:32 IST

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