For the first time in history, the BJP now has more state legislators than the Congress across the country. With over 1,000 MLAs for the first time, the BJP has also gone from being regionally concentrated to being more geographically spread out than ever before.
Using data for MLAs from every state for every year since 1961 compiled by Ashoka University’s Political Data Centre, The Hindu found that 2014 is the first year that the BJP, with 1058 MLAs, has more state-level representatives than the Congress, with 949. Both numbers are historic. For the BJP, which has never before had more than 1,000 MLAs, this is a historic peak. For the Congress, which only fell below 1,000 MLAs in the 1977 and 1979 elections, this is its lowest point ever.
Moreover, the numbers show that from being a regionally concentrated party, the BJP’s spread of state legislators is now geographically far more diverse. It dominates India’s north, has doubled the Congress’ presence in the west and is neck-and-neck with the Congress in the east. The Congress still holds the edge in the north-east but is reduced in size in the south.
Taken together with the Lok Sabha elections, where the BJP with 282 seats had its best ever showing, and the Congress with 44 seats had by far its lowest result, the numbers show that this is by far the Congress’ lowest ever ebb in Indian politics.
Moreover, the Congress can expect to do poorly in states coming up for elections over the next few years, including Assam in 2016 and Karnataka in 2018, says Sanjay Kumar, professor and Director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.
“By the next general election, it is likely not to be in power in any major state,” Mr. Kumar said. Moreover, the Congress’ problem is not just that it is losing elections.
“If you look at states like Maharashtra, it is coming in third and fourth position,” Mr. Kumar pointed out.
“The anti-Congress and anti-incumbency sentiment that had been building up in the last few years first led to our loss in some states, and then in the general election.
The momentum of that is still continuing in these state elections,” Congress national spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit said. “It wasn’t that states like Chhattisgarh or Madhya Pradesh were doing so well for the BJP to win all of them, or that Congress government were doing that badly in every state; this trend has transcended all local-level issues,” Mr. Dikshit said. The intensity of that trend was reducing, he said; while the BJP had swept Leh and Jammu in the parliamentary elections, it had not completely swept these regions in the state elections.
“The Congress is now reduced to Karnataka, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the north-east; what are even geographically the fringes of the country,” BJP’s national spokesperson Nalin Kohli said. “We are thankful that the BJP’s record of development and delivery under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being accepted. It is for the Congress to introspect on why it has been so reduced,” he said.