Huge victory margins indicate party’s expanded base across all social sections
The Bharatiya Janata Party has won a landslide victory in Madhya Pradesh, winning 27 of the 29 seats, its best performance ever in the State. The party’s victory almost resonates with the results in other bipolar States in the neighbourhood such as Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat.
The BJP swept the Assembly election held in Madhya Pradesh a few months ago. The difference between the vote share of the party and the Congress increased from 8 per cent during that election to 19 per cent this time. Only two Congress stalwarts, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath, managed to retain their seats. The result of this election is significant in the State in terms of its victory margin: in the 27 seats, the margins ranged from one lakh to four lakh, while in the 2009 election, the margins in most constituencies were in the thousands.
The extraordinary performance of the BJP was based on the solid platform created by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan during the Assembly election. It was further strengthened and consolidated by the Narendra Modi wave. The rank and file of the BJP was completely charged up . The campaign revolved around the fact that if the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance forms the government at the Centre, the State will get an extra boost for development. The Congress’s abysmal performance in this election is also due to the overwhelming anti-incumbency against the United Progressive Alliance government. In the whole campaign, issues of development remained crucial for the BJP and paved the way for this huge victory.
When an electoral victory is so resounding and the gap between the two contestants so large, it goes without saying that the winning party must have expanded its base across all social sections squarely. Yet, some social sections were more enthusiastic in their support for the BJP. For instance, this time, almost one-third of the electors were from the age group of 18-25. The BJP secured a 54 per cent vote share, which is the highest ever by any party in the State.
Post-poll survey data show that non-literates gave almost equal preference to both the Congress and the BJP. However, among the educated groups, there is a marked higher preference for the BJP. The party did exceedingly well in rural areas and also retained a complete grip in urban areas. Though the poor tend to divide their vote between the two main contenders, most other income groups are clearly in favour of the BJP.
The Other Backward Classes group is numerically the biggest social group in the State. The BJP appears to have further consolidated its hold in this group. Among the OBCs, 67 per cent voted for the BJP and 19 per cent for the Congress. The data suggest that the Brahmin and Rajput communities have shown an extraordinarily higher preference for the BJP, and a similar pattern prevailed among other upper castes as well. The Dalit vote was divided between the BJP and the Congress (43 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively).
The Bahujan Samaj Party’s support base among the Dalits was reduced to 6 per cent. The real enigma of the whole electoral scene is that the BJP led in the tribal-dominated constituencies of the State. The Congress could only retain votes from the bottom of the social pyramid, while the BJP got votes from all social groups with further consolidation among the upper castes and the OBCs. The only exception were the Muslims who overwhelming supported the Congress; the BJP received only 8 per cent of the Muslim votes. This very clearly shows that in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, almost all caste and class groups shifted towards the BJP owing to a popular assessment of the State government.
Yatindra Singh Sisodia is Professor at Madhya Pradesh Institute of Social Science Research, Ujjain.