How voters from different castes, communities voted in Himachal Pradesh?

Updated - December 12, 2022 11:41 am IST

Published - December 11, 2022 07:03 pm IST

Union Minister Anurag Thakur clicks selfies with supporters enroute to a public rally ahead of Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections in Bilaspur on November 8, 2022.

Union Minister Anurag Thakur clicks selfies with supporters enroute to a public rally ahead of Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections in Bilaspur on November 8, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

The shift in support base of the BJP among voters belonging to different caste/communities has resulted in a decline in the BJP’s vote share. The BJP’s vote share declined by 5.8% compared with the 2017 election.

The two castes which play an important role in the State politics are the numerically dominant Rajputs and Brahmins. Evidence from Lokniti-CSDS post-poll survey suggests the BJP continued to enjoy an advantage over the Congress among these two communities, as larger numbers of Rajputs and Brahmins voted in its favour.

This had been the case in 2017 also and this election hardly witnessed any significant shift in the voting patterns of both these castes, except a minor shift amongst the Rajputs towards the Congress. This may be due to the mild sympathy which the Congress was able to generate as it invoked the legacy of Vir Bhadra Singh and asked vote in his name. Voters from other upper castes preferred the BJP over the Congress.

The Central government’s decision to give the status of Scheduled Tribe to people belonging to Hatti community of the trans-Giri region of Sirmaur was seen by many as a strategy to win over the voters of this community.

This decision by the Centre had a strong reaction from the SC communities in Sirampur and other communities also. Findings of the surveys suggest that the BJP seems to have gained some advantage from this decision, as among those who supported this decision of the government, 54 % voted for the BJP, while only 15% among those who are fully opposed to this decision voted for the BJP (Table 1).

It is important to note that the BJP managed to make inroads among voters belonging to the ST community. The survey indicates that 60% of the ST voted for the BJP, an additional 10% support among the ST for the BJP compared with the 2017 Assembly election.

But what seemed to have given theCongress the advantage is its popularity among the Dalit, the OBC and the Muslims. Among all these three communities not only the Congress increased its support base, it took a significant lead over the BJP in this election.

Fifty-three per cent of Dalits who constitute 25% of the total voters in Himachal Pradesh voted for the Congresswhile only 34% voted for the BJP, a significant 19% lead for the Congress. Even among the OBCs, the Congress took 22% lead over the BJP. While Himachal has a miniscule population of Muslims, three out of four Muslims voted for the Congress, though it would hardly have made much difference to the results (Table 2).

Overall, the battle between the two parties appeared quite clearly divided, with the BJP getting more support from the upper castes and Adivasis and the Congress gaining among OBCs and SCs.

(Sanjay Kumar is Professor and Co-director Lokniti-CSDS and Umar Mohiddin is a researcher at Lokniti-CSDS)

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