The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged as the single largest party in the 2022 Goa Assembly elections that revolved around a consolidation of the double anti-incumbency force. The lack of a strong and unified front to capitalise on a strong anti-incumbency sentiment combined with the presence of a significant number of non-committal voters helped the BJP defeat the Opposition.
The Lokniti-CSDS survey data show that the anti-incumbency sentiment was stronger than what it was in 2017. Four in every 10 voters did not favour another chance for the BJP (5% points more compared to 2017). Three in 10 felt that the BJP should be given another term, and about a quarter were non-committal or unsure whether the party should be given another chance.
Despite such strong anti-incumbency, what worked in the BJP’s favour was that the anti-incumbency vote was split between the Congress and other parties. Of those who did not support another chance for the BJP, close to four in 10 voted for the Congress. The other votes were spread among the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) alliance, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Revolutionary Goans Party (RGP) and other smaller parties (Table 2).
The BJP converted one-third of the non-committal voters in its favour, while the Congress could attract only one-fourth of these voters. Due to a fractured Opposition, the remaining 47% of the votes of non-committal voters went to the other parties (14% to the Trinamool Congress+; 10% to the RGP; 6% to AAP; and 17% to independents and other parties). This worked for the BJP because had there been a united front, most of these votes would have gone away from the BJP.
In both North and South Goa, Opposition parties were unsuccessful in consolidating the anti-incumbency sentiment well. The anti-incumbency sentiment was much stronger in South Goa: close to six in 10 voters did not favour another chance for the BJP. This figure dropped to about four in 10 in North Goa. The consolidation of the anti-incumbency vote was poorer in North Goa than in South Goa — Congress was able to garner 42% of anti-incumbent votes in the South, while in the North it got only 34%. Here, a huge chunk of the anti-incumbent votes went to the TMC-Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party alliance (27%) and to the RGP (19%).
Though the BJP successfully consolidated 71% of the pro-incumbency votes in North Goa, which is a stronghold of the party with a higher Hindu concentration, in South Goa too, it was able to garner 83% of such votes.
It must also be noted that the vote choices of Goa’s voters suggest a churning rather than a stability of political loyalties. Both the Congress and the BJP lost nearly 40% of their previous voters to other parties. However, the BJP did a slightly better job at holding on to its previous supporters than the Congress (Table 3). The data also suggest that about a quarter of previous Congress supporters who did not favour another chance for the BJP in the State voted for the TMC-MGP alliance, the AAP, the RGP and other parties. However, only about half the previous BJP supporters who did not want the BJP government to return voted for the Congress, with two-fifths of them voting for other parties. Thus, the lack of tactical unity among the Opposition parties worked in the BJP’s favour despite a strong anti-incumbency sentiment against it.
Vibha Attri and Aastha are researchers at Lokniti-CSDS, Delhi