The phrase ‘double engine government’ constitutes a theme that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is bound to capitalise upon during the Assembly elections in Gujarat. The BJP has often invoked this metaphor several times during elections in other States and it has been catching the voters’ imagination in many places. The metaphor promises faster development because both governments, belonging to the same party, would be on the same page and better coordination between them will bring State’s development. The Lokniti-CSDS survey made an attempt to understand how plausible this metaphor is in the minds of the voters of Gujarat.
In Gujarat, the support for the double-engine government has increased from 16% in 2017 to 27% in 2022, and in contrast, opposition to it has plummeted substantially (Table 1). Even those who are fully dissatisfied with the central government (17%) still choose to support the idea of a double-engine government.
The findings across States in earlier surveys indicated an interesting pattern: wherever the BJP was the incumbent government, it found substantial support for a double-engine government. Voters in Gujarat (27%), Assam (41%), Goa (34%), Uttar Pradesh (31%) and Uttarakhand (33%) show a substantial inclination towards ‘double engine’, whereas in States such as Kerala (54%), Tamil Nadu (40%) and West Bengal (33%), where the ruling dispensation is different, the citizens mostly disagree (Table 2).
Most often, across States, the support and opposition to ‘double-engine government’ run parallel to the level of satisfaction with the central government (Table 3). States such as Uttarakhand (42%) and Uttar Pradesh (17%) show a substantially higher level of net satisfaction (‘fully satisfied’ minus ‘fully dissatisfied’) than Gujarat (5%) and Assam (1%), and in contrast, the net dissatisfaction (‘fully dissatisfied’ minus ‘fully satisfied’) was higher in Punjab (43%) Kerala (32%), Tamil Nadu (14%), West Bengal. (2%) and Goa (1%).
While there may be some overall attraction towards the metaphor of double engine government, it is interesting that support to this idea is markedly more pronounced among the rich than the poor and among urban respondents than among rural respondents (Table 4).
Suhas Palshikar is Chief Editor of Studies in Indian Politics and Devesh Kumar is researcher at Lokniti-CSDS