In Delhi, after a long gap of 15 years the BJP could finally upstage the Congress by securing over 46 per cent of vote share and winning all the seven Lok Sabha seats. It was a seamless victory for the BJP which managed to push the AAP to the second spot, while decimating the Congress. The success of the BJP thus lies in the Congress’ tactical blunder in supporting the AAP government in Delhi, and the decision of Arvind Kejriwal to quit the government in haste. The survey data suggests that the Congress and the AAP could not match the heightened aspirations of the upper caste and middle class voters.
The Congress had a double whammy, first, when it declared its support for the AAP to form the government and second, collaborating with the BJP in stalling the introduction of the Jan Lokpal Bill forcing Mr. Kejriwal to resign. Consequently, the Congress secured only 15 per cent vote share, down by approximately 42 per cent from the last Lok Sabha election. The only effort that the BJP did finally to decimate the Congress was to carefully weave identity politics by picking the right candidates representing different communities. Though it could not win a single seat, the AAP was no pushover as it improved its vote share from 29 per cent to 33 per cent. It has already developed a core support base at the cost of the Congress. In this election the AAP’s core support base constitutes the Dalits (it polled 38 per cent among other Dalits and 63 per cent among Balmikis). But the AAP failed to get votes from the upper caste, middle class and Other Backward Castes.
In our post-poll survey, the BJP enjoys overwhelming support (61 per cent) among the upper caste voters. The rest is divided between the AAP (20 per cent), the Congress (11 per cent) and others. In addition to this, the Muslim vote share that was split almost in equal proportion between the Congress and the AAP during the Assembly elections in 2013, worked in favour of the BJP candidates this time in North Delhi, Chandni Chowk, North East, and East Delhi.
In the South, West and North-West Delhi the winning combination for the BJP was the middle class, OBC and the Sikhs. Jats, Gujjars and the other OBC voters, mainly residing in outer Delhi, and influenced by the politics in the neighbouring States, gravitated towards the BJP. Despite the AAP’s promise to probe the 1984 Sikh riots, it could not win the support of Sikh voters. In contrast, the BJP received an overwhelming support (68 per cent) from the Sikh community.
The survey data suggests that Mr. Modi was way ahead in the prime ministerial choice of the respondents that also helped the BJP to wean away voters from the AAP and the Congress.
(Biswajit Mohanty is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, Deshbandhu College, University of Delhi.)