In Chhattisgarh, BJP builds on success of 2009

The BJP’s vote share among Dalits rose to 37 per cent while among the lower OBCs it rose to almost 60 per cent.

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:37 pm IST

Published - May 25, 2014 04:25 am IST

The BJP, which swept the Lok Sabha polls in Chhattisgarh, improved its vote share in the 16th Lok Sabha polls.

The party polled 48.5 per cent votes in an election that also saw a steep rise in turnout (a 14 per cent rise culminating in over 69 per cent polling). With the Raman Singh government voted back to power in the Assembly elections held just a few months ago, the BJP’s victory was not unexpected. It only indicated the terminal situation in which the Congress finds itself. Unable to fight back against the BJP, it had to be satisfied with a lone seat from the State. In this strictly bipolar State, the difference in the vote share of the two main parties is a huge 10 per cent.

Youth buck trend

In this otherwise one-sided election, a few interesting patterns deserve to be noted. Defying the patterns in many other parts of the country, the young voters in the State favoured the Congress more than the BJP (over half the respondents in the age group of 18-25 voted for Congress as against 40 per cent voting for the BJP). Second, the Congress improved its base among the urban voters (42 per cent) while the BJP consolidated its support among the rural voters (51 per cent).

Post-poll survey also shows that the BJP’s vote share among Dalits rose to 37 per cent while that among the lower OBCs rose to almost 60 per cent. Correspondingly, the BJP also gained among the poor and lower-income voters. Interestingly, while many States reported an upper caste consolidation in favour of the BJP, in Chhattisgarh it lost some support from the upper castes though it ended up being the main beneficiary of their support.

With a popular State government in power, the outcome of the polls could not have been very different. Yet, The Congress’s inability to relate to voters is starkly brought out by the fact that even various Central government schemes that benefitted underprivileged voters were identified with the State government. Those who benefitted from schemes such as MNERGA or National Rural Health Mission, etc. gave the credit to the State government for these benefits (see Table). This failure of the Congress ensured that the popular State government and the image of Narendra Modi would bring a near-total victory for the BJP.

( Anupama Saxena teaches political science in Guru Ghasidas University, Bilaspur )

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