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A Stolen Verdict: Nirmalangshu Mukherji

May 23, 2014

Guest Post by NIRMALANGSHU MUKHERJI

The Bharatiya Janata Party secured about 19% votes in the general elections of 2009 to win 116 seats in the Parliament. With this most impressive conversion ratio, they had more or less exhausted their possibilities in their ‘safe’ states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, and the like. They were still 157 seats away from a simple majority in the Loksabha. Even assuming the impressive conversion ratio, they needed at least 26% more of the vote share, that is 45% in all, to form a government.

When the elections for 2014 were announced, it was hard to see where the BJP would get these additional votes from. Moreover, unlike the NDA of 1999-2004, they had rather modest support from other parties with most of the big parties like AIADMK, TMC, JDU, BJD, and the like staying away. Hence, even if we factor in some rise in number of seats in ‘safe’ states, plus handsome gains in Rajasthan, Maharashtra etc., their ability to reach anywhere near the 272+ mark looked rather dim.

This very plausible analysis of the general electoral picture might have led to some complacency in the anti-NDA camps to launch a vigorous and united election campaign. Congress, for example, chose to go alone except in Bihar. The Left failed to secure any allies as well. Most started the campaign rather late while Narendra Modi, RSS, and BJP sprung into action many months in advance.

Still, despite an unprecedented media campaign by the BJP involving thousands of crores of rupees and a severe anti-incumbency against the UPA—especially against the Congress—the picture of vote share sketched above very nearly held. The BJP managed to improve its vote share from a paltry 19% to a very modest 31%, still very far away from the minimally required 45%. Large chunks of the country still remained mostly unaffected by the saffron onslaught: West Bengal, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Andhra, Telengana, Orissa—close to 170 seats. Yet, BJP itself managed to cross the 272 barrier in number of seats to reach 282. What explains this near miracle?

 FIRST PAST THE POST?

It is well-known that the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system of electoral win has shortcomings. For example, it is possible for a party to win majority of the seats with just 26% of vote share; by the same token, a party may not get a simple majority even with 74% of vote share. These are possibilities in theory. In practice, we expect the ‘natural’ course of distribution of popular votes—especially in an extremely complex and heterogeneous population profile in India—to vary somewhat between these extremes in different regions to optimally settle at somewhere near the 50% mark in the gross national picture.

This expectation had been largely met in the previous general elections in India. In a few cases, majority governments have been formed with vote share hovering between 41% and 45% (TOI, 19/5/14). In most cases, majority governments enjoyed vote shares significantly above these marks. For example, in the two previous UPA governments, the majority was reached with close to 48%-50% vote share, combining the votes of all pre- and post-poll alliances plus outside support on which the fate of the governments depended. In the remarkable electoral turn around of 1977, the Janata Party did secure a majority of 295 seats with 41.1% vote share, but the combined vote of the allies who joined the government rose to 52%. Also, the Janata Party itself was a motley combination of various groups in conflict with each other. Averaging over these results, it seems that the 45% mark, as mentioned in the opening paragraph, has substantial historical plausibility.

Therefore, it is very important to keep in mind that the alarmingly low vote share of BJP in 2014 cannot be attributed to the limitations of the FPTP system as some commentators even from the Left have done, because the system had generally served its democratic purpose successfully for over six decades across the length and breadth of this pluralist country. It had never failed as massively before. BJP’s vote share of 31% in 2014 then ought to be treated as a singular deviation from the general trend. As such, it needs specific explanation.

An electoral system, like any other social system, is not a natural system; it is a man-made one. Hence, its just and effective functioning depends on participants adhering to the founding principles of the system in letter and spirit. Ongoing rectifications leading to progressive legislation may result in more effective laws in course of time. But the point remains that no social system can be so formulated as to remain totally immune from deliberate manipulation. We may tighten the taxation system, judicial system, and the like, with as many controls as we are able to furnish at a point in time; but the devil will always find its way by using some aspect of the system itself. A combination of power and cunning, with suitable lacing of violence, can defeat any system of welfare humans can imagine.

 THE NUMBERS

Let us first get clear about what this 31% means for democratic representation. As Shuddhbrata Sengupta (Kafila, May 18) and others have pointed out, the current population of India is 1.27 billion or 1270 million. The total electorate is 810 million. Since 66.3% of this electorate voted in the elections, the actual number who voted is 541 million. At 31%, BJP won roughly 165 million votes. In other words, in the general population, over 1000 million or 1 billion people or 86% did not vote for BJP. Even among the registered electorate, nearly 650 million or 80% did not vote for BJP.

The BJP government just elected is the most unpopular and unrepresentative in the history of the republic of India. To emphasize, these abysmal numbers have little to do with the limitations of FPTP; so they can only be the result of deliberate manipulation.

To understand the cunning that sabotaged the electoral system, it is important to note that, from one direction, even the 31% figure is flattering. Among the 282 seats won by BJP, about 95 accrued from the two states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh alone. If we assume uniform vote per seat ratio throughout these 282 seats and calculate the contribution of UP and Bihar on national vote ratio on that basis, it works out to nearly 10.5% (the actual figure is likely to be higher due to the thumping wins in these two states). Subtracting this figure from the gross national vote ratio, the residual national ratio turns out to be roughly 20.5%, close to BJP’s 2009 figure and Congress’ vote-share in 2014. BJP’s victory then is entirely ascribable to the massive gain in seats in UP and Bihar.

 It is important to recall that BJP secured just 10 seats in UP in 2009, occupying the fourth position after Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and Congress each of which had around 20 seats. In Bihar, in alliance with Janata Dal (United, JDU), it secured 12 seats, JDU had 20. In effect, BJP more than doubled its Bihar tally in 2014, while it increased the seat share in UP sevenfold!

Yet, except for one vicious phenomenon to be sketched below, there was no indication of any BJP-wave in these states in the last five years, no new charismatic leadership emerged, the BJP led no significant social movement. In fact, the SP had formed the government in UP just two years ago with comfortable majority. In Bihar, all credit for development and improvement in law and order accrued to the dynamic leadership of Nitish Kumar of JDU. So the issue of what led to BJP’s massive victory in 2014 coincides with the issue of what led to sudden increase of BJP’s seat share in UP and Bihar.

 AMIT SHAH

In June 2013, nearly an year before the elections of 2014, BJP (read, Narendra Modi) placed a rogue element named Amit Shah in UP to organize its campaign. Amit Shah is a trusted lieutenant of Narendra Modi, the erstwhile chief minister of Gujarat. Shah was also the minister of state for home in Gujarat; Modi kept the home portfolio to himself. Shah was charged by the CBI, acting on the directions of the Supreme Court of India, for engineering a series fake encounters in Gujarat killing scores of mostly muslim persons in cold-blood. Shah was in command of a police-intelligence system in Gujarat in which over three dozen of the topmost police officers of the state are currently in prison on charges of kidnapping and murder. As noted, these arrests have been made on the basis of charges filed by the CBI under the supervision of the Supreme Court. Shah himself was charged and imprisoned for quite sometime. He did manage to secure the bail subsequently, but was ‘expelled’ from Gujarat by the Supreme Court so that he is unable to vitiate the trials that are continuing. Denied entry into Gujarat where he was minister of state for home, Shah moved to UP.

A high-powered inquiry by the judicial system, preferably the Supreme Court of India, is needed to unearth the story of what happened in UP and the adjacent Bihar after Amit Shah moved into that area and started organizing thousands of volunteers from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). One factor that needs to be thoroughly investigated is that apparently many dozens of communal riots of varying intensity and location erupted in both UP and Bihar soon after Shah moved in. The communal situation had in fact deteriorated sharply in Bihar even before Shah shifted his base. Apparently RSS cadres got busy as soon as the old alliance between JDU and BJP broke down when Narendra Modi—the alleged architect and mastermind of the monstrous pogroms of 2002 in Gujarat—was elevated as the supreme commander of BJP. Soon after, Shah’s presence in nearby UP appears to have further invigorated the communal forces in both states. All of this culminated in the widespread riots in the strategic Muzaffarnagar area of UP in which hundreds of muslims lost their lives and many thousands were rendered homeless.

The connection between incitement of riots and subsequent electoral gains is well-known. In a familiar move, the victims, namely the muslims, were portrayed as the real culprits: Amit Shah declared openly that it was a matter of honour that needs to be avenged through the ballot. After the pogroms in Gujarat in which thousands of muslims were butchered and lakhs rendered homeless, 286 persons were arrested under the draconian POTA: 285 were muslims, 1 was a Sikh (no Hindus). Subsequently in Gujarat, the BJP enjoyed overwhelming electoral success that established the authority of Narandra Modi in the Sangh Parivar.

What happens is fairly simple to understand. Once polarization is achieved on communal lines projecting a demon/victim divide, old community alliances begin to break down. In the present case, Amit Shah’s clarion call not only consolidated the entire upper caste vote in BJP’s favour, it also galvanized a substantial chunk of (Hindu) backward caste votes to move towards BJP. As a result, in a largely four-cornered contest, BJP was able to consolidate enough majoritarian votes to defeat the caste-based structures of SP and BSP. For example, BSP had won 21 seats in 2009 through a skilled alliance of dalit, muslim, and upper caste votes. This time, BSP retained its core dalit votes, but its upper caste votes moved away to BJP and the muslim vote was highly fragmented between SP, BSP, and Congress. Thus, BSP failed to win a single seat despite a vote-share of 20%, BJP secured 70 with 42% vote-share. (There were some other minor factors, such as some consolidation of young voters for BJP, which I am setting aside).

If the story of UP and Bihar sketched above holds, it is difficult to dispel the impression that BJP has reached absolute majority in 2014 by inciting communal divide in these two states. In that, it has violated the basic spirit of the Constitution of India and the rules of franchise to artificially engineer a seat per vote ratio to capture state power.

Even then this government is the most unrepresentative of all governments in post-Independent India.

 

 

45 Comments leave one →
  1. uthappam permalink
    May 23, 2014 6:16 AM

    Masterly. It only remains to be explained how this could happen in UP, which was ruled over by a Samajvadi Party government.

    • Kumarpushp permalink
      May 25, 2014 2:32 AM

      Udit Raj, Ram vilas Paswan , Ram Das athawale are brought into BJP with large some of money.Kafila must investigete about Udit raj who was paid 1500 crores rupees for which he brought land in Goa .it is upto Kafila to investigate .I am sure MR Udit Raj did not buy from his name but I can give date when he brought the land in Goa.How modi can he give two seat to Apna dal .world know who created the riots in west Up but medias are afraid to raise to question about riots and other side no case against Togadia who ask for hindus to take the house of muslims ,no case file against togadia because he is hindu and all judges in supreme court are hindus.

      • RDS permalink
        May 25, 2014 10:10 PM

        Delighted to see your comment. Let me give you a different perspective. In addition to money that you mention was used to buy Udit Raj, Paswan and Athawale into BJP. You may include MJ Akbar, Sabir Ali (later dropped) etc in the list. Modi surpassed all upper caste leaders, not only in BJP and affiliated organizations, but no other leader of such low social background (once untouchable) could rise to such high status in any left party. He humbled Togadia in Gujarat, without attacking his high caste. Please, see the role reversal. Now upper caste Hindus are complaining. Udit Raj feels very comfortable with this situation (his statement). Should he not?

        • Kumarpushp permalink
          May 28, 2014 5:04 AM

          Udit Raj will get same fate what BJP done to Sangha priya gautam.when Udit Raj,Paswan,Athawale will be booted out from RSS and BJp meetings .in RSS and BJp meetings if you are not RSS member means you can not attend the Meetings.Udit raj had sold Buddhist movement to RSS and there umblical links. Jagjeevan Ram ,BP maurya ,Ram dhan are come to same category and dalits donot give any shits to leader who sold dalit and Buddhist movement.even BJp brought the pamplet showing Kanshi Ram, Jagjeevan ram and Dr Ambedkar but Dalits did not give any shits to RSS propaganda. Modi ministry 22 minister belongs to brahmins, thakur and Bania where you say they belongs to OBCs.Udit raj will get treatment what jagjeevan ram gets from Dalits.

          • RDS permalink
            May 28, 2014 1:13 PM

            Kumar Pushp, I meet you only on few occasions on this site, but appreciate your sincerity. Although I hate to talk about caste, Modi is the first PM of India from a very low caste, although considered low-OBC. Is it not an advancement over 1950 when Dr Ambedkar lost election against an unknown Dalit? There is only one apparent Brahmin name in cabinet having an insignificant ministry. It opens the door for a Dr Ambedkar like individual to lead India, but not as a Dalit,, but Indian. He/she could be from any party, whether left or right. Do you realize that Mukherji, a high Brahmin leftist has to analyze Modi’s victory. Did it ever happen in past? I

            • Kumarpushp permalink
              June 3, 2014 4:41 AM

              Dr Ambedkar had lost election in Bombay even leftist and Brahmins MR Dange did not support Dr Ambedkar.Dr Ambedkar won from Bengal when Muslim league had drop his candidates.for 120 million dalits nothing happened in hindu India they are still raped ,murdered by hindus .120 million muslims are India but all rapes and murders on dalits are being done by hindus and there hindu led government.

      • Dark Lord permalink
        May 26, 2014 6:12 PM

        1500 Crs? That is ridiculous large amount of money and totally unbelievable. Further suspicious given at least 3 supreme court judges are not hindus.

        • Kumarpushp permalink
          June 3, 2014 1:57 PM

          How many Judges are hindu in Supremecourt and in High corurt of India

      • Hartman permalink
        May 28, 2014 3:24 PM

        Please give the dates when he bought the aforesaid land, and whatever information you have (where it is located etc.). Send this to the moderator at Kafila who will send it onwards to me.

        • Kumarpushp permalink
          June 3, 2014 4:43 AM

          Udit Raj brought land in Goa in 3rd week of december

  2. May 23, 2014 8:40 AM

    That’s how first past the poll system and a parliamentary democracy works. But we tend to ignore the flaws of the system till the govt of our choice keeps coming to the power. We start cursing the system the moment a govt we dislike comes to power. For example you can consider this fact last time in UP both BJP and Congress managed to get approximately same percentage of popular vote but the seats won by Congress party was more than twice than that of by BJP. But no one was having any problem since the beneficiary was the secular party. This country faces a greater threat by the hypocrisy of its intellectuals than it ever faced by BJP or any other party.

    • Kashyap permalink
      May 23, 2014 9:37 AM

      I agree. The narrow mindedness with which a portion of the intelligentsia of this country opposed to the BJP is treating this verdict is preposterous. The people of India have voted, and quite decisively at that.Our country needs both the Left and the Right. This time, the Right has defeated the Left. It would be useful if the Left introspects, finds out the disconnect with the people and try to somehow bridge the ever-widening chasm between it and the people rather than finding faults with everything else around it.

      There’s an excellent article in The Hindu by Shiv Visvanathan, titled “How Modi defeated liberals like me”. It’s a start.

      • Nirmalangshu permalink
        May 23, 2014 6:39 PM

        It is no longer a shock that Visvanathan is cited for a “balanced” view. A (new) start indeed.

    • Nirmalangshu permalink
      May 23, 2014 2:20 PM

      FPTP has its problems. But it needs vicious manipulation to heighten the effect.

      • Kashyap permalink
        May 23, 2014 8:49 PM

        As I pointed out below too, percentage of seats won by a specific party has always been much higher than the actual vote share of that party. This issue isn’t new and its benefit have been reaped by many parties over the years. If we compare 2004 vs 2009, the vote share of the Congress increased by a paltry 1.5% while the actual number of seats won increased by 42% from 145 in 2004 to 206 in 2009. I don’t recall anyone raising a hue and cry of “manipulation” or against the divisive casteist and communal outlook of the Congress at that time. It’s sad when “leftist” or “liberal” intellectuals tend to be highly selective in their analysis.

      • Kashyap permalink
        May 24, 2014 9:34 AM

        Another point to add to the mix. By increasing its vote share by a minuscule 1.5% from 2004 to 2009, the Congress increased its seat share by 42% (from 142 to 206). At that point of time, I don’t recall even a single word over “manipulation” by a Congress party that thrives on overtly casteist and communal politics. Can you please explain how then was the Congress mandate in 2009 justified?

        • Nirmalangshu permalink
          May 24, 2014 11:30 AM

          That is a problem but not the current issue. BJP got 116 seats in 2009 with just 19% votes. This time also they’ve increased seat tally much more with similar vote-share outside UP and Bihar. That’s a problem, but I am not complaining about it since even with that inflated ratio the tally falls short of majority by 100 seats.

          • Kashyap permalink
            May 25, 2014 9:33 PM

            The issue here is your contention of it being unrepresentative despite the numbers saying otherwise. BJP fought in 430 odd seats, where it got 40+% of the total number of votes polled. In fact, in 170 of the seats, BJP won more than 50% of the total votes polled. And as has already been shown, a) seats won by a particular party (out of the total contested seats) is always magnified in our first past the post system and has benefited multiple parties at multiple times, b) even small swings in vote share have benefited multiple parties at multiple times, and c) using vote percentage of the total electorate as a indicator while ignoring number of seats contested shows a lack of understanding of the fundamentals of statistics. The vote share in this election of AIADMK, CPI(M) and AAP are pretty much in the same ballpark, but we know the difference in actual number of seats won!

  3. Majumdar permalink
    May 23, 2014 8:54 AM

    Dada,

    Great article, as usual. But how do you explain 42/48 in Maharashtra, 12/14 in Jharkhand, 25/25 in Rajasthan, 27/29 in MP, 10/11 in Chhattisgarh, 5/5 in Uttaranchal, 4/4 in HP, 7/10 in Haryana, 7/7 in Delhi and 17/28 in Karnataka. Were there some hidden Amit Shah like gems somewhere?

    Regards

    • Nirmalangshu permalink
      May 23, 2014 2:28 PM

      These are BJP’s traditional bastions where the vote share has improved due to massive anti-incumbency against UPA. Maharashtra is a particularly sharp case. So riots were not needed. Even then BJP would have fallen short by nearly 100 seats, as expected, without UP and Bihar. Carefully organized and selective riots for nearly a year made all the difference between losing badly and winning handsomely.

      • May 25, 2014 11:04 PM

        This is the problem with your analysis. Hardly any candidates that won in MH belonged to upper castes, precisely the reason why the BJP- SS combine failed in Maharashtra for this long.Congress lost in traditional Maratha stronghold seats first time since independence, and the hegemony of Brahmins + Maratha in MH politics failed flat. Even after emergency MH sent 30 MPs from congress to LS.
        Now coming to the larger picture, Modi took a leaf out of Obama, 2012 book, and selected seats which would deliver maximum results. Obama chose Ohio , Virginia, NC, Florida ,Colorado and Nevada and theoretically could have chosen to campaign in Missouri, Indiana or Arizona too , which would be in play in 2016 as swing states.Point being efficient utilisation of resources, which they did and won.Plus the voteshare is 40% since the people voting for allies of NDA have in effect voted for BJP in absetia too.And between democrats have better vote percentage in the House than Republicans , but who controls the House , republicans. That is a steal. Not Indian parliament.

  4. G Shah permalink
    May 23, 2014 9:10 AM

    Exactly!

    Scarier still, since this tested formula has been successfully applied by the BJ party previously in national other state elections, I see it continually being applied in future.

    Let the country and specially its minorities go through hell everyday.

    • Karthic permalink
      May 23, 2014 11:49 AM

      Do explain, how this formula could be “applied” by any party.

      As far as I know, each party goes to elections and then the victory/defeat is decided by who gets the most votes in each constitutency. How do the political parties influence this ?

    • Nirmalangshu permalink
      May 23, 2014 2:30 PM

      We can prevent it by organizing unified resistance; any other “short cut” will only feed into the arsenals of the communal forces.

      • Majumdar permalink
        May 23, 2014 6:56 PM

        Dada,

        Your wishes are about to come true. Lalooji and Nitishji have decided to bury the hatchet. Hopefully, Netaji, Azam Khan sb, Behenji and Rahul baba will also do the same in UP. Invitation to Rajpakse (the Modi of the Ravans) may bring Amma and Kalaignar together.

        Regards

      • RDS permalink
        May 23, 2014 10:19 PM

        The question is, whom you wish to unite with? Will BJD, TMC or AIADMK join you? Will they not worry about getting a larger allocation of central funds to their respective states? Why not think positively, think about the issues on which a large section of the people find hope in you. By focusing only on resistance and trying to stop whatever good your adversaries can do to people, what you accomplish? You will, al most, promote more division, as the casteists and regionalists will gain and not a genuine left.

  5. Kashyap permalink
    May 23, 2014 9:27 AM

    Dear Sir, A minor detail of interest. BJP fought in only 430-odd seats out of the total 543. This means that in 110+ seats, 100% of the electorate voted against the BJP, statistically speaking.

    In the last election in 2009, the Congress received 28% of the vote while contesting in 440 and won 206 (or roughly 47% of the seats it contested).

    There have been quite a few articles on kafila arguing for a proportional representation system, where it would be required for the party in power to at least have a simple majority of the votes polled (above 50%). The last time anyone even came close was in 1984 when the Congress won 404 out of 491 seats (or 82% of the contested seats) on a vote share of 49%.

    Such telescoping of actual vote share into number of seats has been an intrinsic part of our parliamentary democracy since independence. Unfortunately, bringing up only after such a dramatic victory to BJP and misleadingly tagging it as “most unrepresentative of all governments in post-Independent India” unfortunately sounds rather churlish.

    • Nirmalangshu permalink
      May 23, 2014 6:44 PM

      I am all for proportional representation or some other measure for improving the system. But for this election, let us not confuse issues. Unless evidence is offered to the contrary, it’s the riots organized by Amit Shah that won the elections for BJP. If anything, there was a Shah-wave of murderous violence.

      • Nil permalink
        May 24, 2014 11:12 AM

        “Shah-wave of murderous violence” How conveniently you forgot that SP govt played if not major then equal role by 1. Not being able to control riots 2. discriminating people based on religion for which they had to be reprimanded by SC. If BJP may have started a communal tone in this election it was only made stronger by Mulayam, Azam Khan and Sonia Gandhi, But how easily the blame is put onto one party and one party only.

  6. Simple Khanna permalink
    May 23, 2014 9:49 AM

    While I cheered for Arvind K, when he started the party, and was happy that he won the delhi elections, his subsequent actions have made me sceptical of any and all statements he makes now.

    It seems like he can play a destructive role to perfection, but given a constructive role, he fails miserably [my opinion].

    Unfortunately for him, his last destructive action [that of challenging modi], blew up in his face. I still do not understand why he did not challenge Mr Rahul G too, given that AK could have filed his nominations from multiple places.

    Perhaps there is some quaint rule that stopped him from doing this. I am not sure.

    Now that the process is over, and he did not gain anything, but lost much more, he is now back to his dramatic actions, and soon there’ll be no one left in AAP because of this idiocy.

    I had assumed that AAP had already considered the powers of the Delhi Government vis-a-vis the Center, given that Delhi is a special category city. But i am amazed that the AAP people did not do this due diligence, or it seems like they did not do. Otherwsie, why quit when they could not introduce a bill? They should have known before hand that they could not do such a thing.

    • RDS permalink
      May 23, 2014 10:50 PM

      AAP, which stirred hope for India, took no time to convert in curse. Kejri is compared to Gandhi Ji and JP by AAP, but the latter two never lusted for political power. Therefore, it took decades for Congress to deteriorate into an anti-people organization. JP’s movement produced casteist leaders whose true nature became apparent after some time. But Kejri revealed himself much sooner, and now any pro-people dispensation has to deal with Kejri and AAP. A genuine left can never grow in the shadow of AAP, a truth that seems to take time to sink into leftist intellectual’s mind.

  7. Kalyan permalink
    May 23, 2014 7:50 PM

    Since we are speaking numbers and statistics, attached is an analysis which should give us an idea on the reality of the mandate.

    http://www.firstpost.com/politics/modis-mandate-is-larger-than-you-think-more-like-40-1539063.html

    • Nirmalangshu permalink
      May 24, 2014 11:38 AM

      It’s a terrible argument. Increasing seat-tally by decreasing the number of seats contested does avoid “wasted” votes, but it also avoids progressively larger sections of the population. In the most extreme (vulgar) case, one can win a majority by contesting only 50% +1 seats and securing 50% vote-share in each. This will amount to 26% of national vote-share. BJP’s 31% is not too far from that nightmare. It needed to resort to riots to accomplish even this. Popular government?

    • Nirmalangshu permalink
      May 24, 2014 5:26 PM

      Bad argument. The issue is to represent the country, not just some convenient part of it. By the suggested logic, even 26% national vote share (close to BJP’s mark) will count as representing the country if a party wins 50% votes in 50% seats (+1), leaving half the country uncovered.

  8. May 23, 2014 8:02 PM

    Highly scientific analysis of BJP’s victory in 2014 parliamentary elections.

  9. Keith Wz permalink
    May 24, 2014 12:36 AM

    if you think 31% or 38% is not right majority and it should be 50%, then ban regional parties or the freedom to start any party any time. You cannot give people too many options, the freedom to start any party any time and stand in elections and then expect the winner to have at least 50%.

    It is good that people can assemble and have smaller regional parties, so that their voices get heard when the bigger ones don’t listen to them.

    You cannot have your cake and eat it too.

  10. Koushik permalink
    May 24, 2014 10:28 AM

    It is exactly this kind of ham-handed “analysis” that will make BJP strategists feel like they might even win next time, if the the opposition comes to conclusions that have been drawn above,

    The BJP has won a majority mandate to rule, and it is better that we accept it fair and square instead of trying to take recourse to statistics. And it is well known that statistics is a sword that cuts both ways – for every bit of electoral arithmetic indulged in by the author, BJP sympathizers will gleefully point out statistics that will show how a large number of their winning MPs have polled 40% or more votes and how they have completely swept many more states than those which witnessed communal riots. They have even done well in which they were not successful in terms of seats – for example in West Bengal BJP obtained a 17% vote share and came second in many constituencies, relegating the Left Front to third position.

    The reason for the BJP wave this time were many, the principal among which were tremendous anger among the common man across the country towards the Congress. This was exacerbated by the weak and ineffective leadership of the Congress, fronted by Rahul Gandhi, which was sharply accentuated by the sharp and aggressive leadership offered by Modi. I do not think the BJP would have won majority on its own if this sharp contrast were not there – though even in that case the BJP would still have been able to form a government.

    Please acknowledge that a large number of leading MPs of the Congress have lost – and that would indicate to you the kind of public anger they faced. Also please acknowledge that the “development” slogan of the BJP, however, untruthful in reality, caught the imagination of the youth of the country because they could relate to it easily. The youth, after all, want jobs – and the BJP was able to promise them that.

    Instead of resorting to arithmetical exercises, please think, Sir, how you – or we who oppose the BJP and its ideologies – will counter their ideas and their propaganda in day to day life. Unless we can do that, we cannot prevent the BJP from coming back to power.

    • Nirmalangshu permalink
      May 25, 2014 4:13 PM

      I am not defending Congress or ignoring the severe anti-incumbency partly forced due to mind-boggling propaganda by BJP and the corporate media. However, much of the Congress vote was supposed to be transferred to the regional parties, including AAP, if the ground was left unvitiated.

      • Koushik permalink
        May 26, 2014 11:01 AM

        Dear Sir, once again my mind cannot help but boggle at your thoughts. What exactly do you mean by “if the ground was left unvitiated”? What is this, the BJP is expected to watch tamely from the sideline, not do its best to obtain votes for itself, and just let votes be “transferred” from the Congress to the regional parties? How do votes get “transferred” from one party to another party anyway, if parties do not make an effort to obtain those votes?

        And you think that the severe anti-incumbency was forced by propaganda and corporate media. By saying that, you ignore the genuine anger felt by voters across India towards the Congress party. If you think it was merely anti-incumbency, you are sadly mistaken. It was anger against widespread corruption, anger against ministers engaging in glib talks of zero loss and what not, and anger against ineffectual leadership. Why cannot we, the 66% who did not vote for the BJP, accept the simple truth that this time there was a huge anti-Congress wave (not merely anti-incumbency) that could not be exploited by the other parties but which was exploited by the BJP?

  11. May 24, 2014 1:18 PM

    A typical left liberal take on the unpalatable results for small percentage of population,rest of India is rejoicing.
    Your theories nay accusations against Amit shah are based on your hate filled perverse logic ,you ignore the pitiable plight of voters of UP and Bihar who are facing unendurable miserable poverty without any hope for last sixty years with no modern life comforts such electricity,sanitation,security or you think these requirement are not important for subhuman specifies like these hapless denizens of these states.
    So stupid , these voters saw a glimmer of light and hope for bright future in Modi who tirelessly worked hard to contact the masses on one to one basis and successfully established the link between their present plight and their wrong choices in electing the castiest and backward looking parties such as SP,BSP,Congress.
    This is the reason why the masses of UP and Bihar elected BJP and not the lies that are spewed by you,live in denial if you want ,the ground has already slipped under all the retrograde leftist polity and soon you will be less than a foot note in history.

  12. May 24, 2014 11:47 PM

    Mr Mukherjee – much as I would like to agree with your analysis, your move in this piece from a solid empirical, numbers-based beginning of the investigation [not that I agree with all that math of yours] to a more hypothetical, non-empirical, hunch-based concluding section of Amit-Shah-in-UP-> series-of-communal-riots->polarization->70+ seats leaves me disappointed. This from someone who I assume is the same person who gave a fine and detailed account of the Afzal Guru case – I find that additionally disappointing. it is of course all very nice and vacuously comforting in these times of angst to conjecture and form theories – I am equally pained to see the accused in the Ishrat Jahan case become the “deliverer” of UP+Bihar…but I would still hesitate to accept the glib conclusions that you seem to offer.You make the “polarization=consolidation-of-upper-caste-and-OBC-votes” seem a little too simplistic. Really, all upper caste Hindus in UP voted as a bloc for the BJP because they thought that the Muslims were behind Muzaffarnagar…?? In western and eastern UP?? That I find hard to believe…

    • Nirmalangshu permalink
      June 8, 2014 7:26 PM

      I agree that more work is needed. This is just a start to counter the false euphoria. However, one needs to explain the systematic emergence of controlled riots in Bihar and UP in the past year, mostly unreported in the corporate media. Timing and content of Amit Shah’s speeches also need explanation. And, of course, there’s the Gujarat example of how communal polarisation can have a sustain effect on elections on a carefully selective basis.

  13. mdayalweb permalink
    May 26, 2014 12:43 PM

    So many lies in one article is astounding! let me go point by point –

    1. BJP vote share in the 428 odd seats it contested in 39.6%, and not 31%. The 31% is calculated on 543 seats. So, BJP alone is 40% vote share in the seats it contested.

    2. You add NDA’s 8% vote share to that – the total vote share of the pre-poll alliance of NDA comes to around 48%.

    3. You said that there was no BJP wave in West Bengal, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Andhra, Telengana, Orissa. I guess you need to get your analysis right.
    Let me help you. For example, in your state of West Bengal –
    i) BJP won as many seats as CPM.
    ii) BJP had a vote share of more than 16%, only 5-6% less than that of CPIM.
    iii) BJP polled more than 1 lakh votes in 35/42 seats, and more than 75k in 42/42 seats in Bengal.
    iv) If we translated LS results into AS, BJP won 50 Assembly seats in Bengal, including Mamata Banerjee’s Assembly seat.
    v) BJP also came second, ahead of CPM, in all seats in Kolkata!

    Please go and do a similar analysis on Odisha and Tamil Nadu as well!

    4. For your kind information, NDA won Municipal, Assembly and Lok Sabha, all three elections in Andhra!

    5. BJP defeated Congress in states like Assam, Maharashtra and Haryana, which are Congress bastions! Congress has ruled Maharashtra all through since independence expect 5 yrs in the 90s! Which riots happened here and which Amit Shah came here!?

    6. BJP has never done well in Haryana and Assam! This time, BJP defeated Congress in Assam, both in terms of vote share and seats! What explanation do you have for that!?

    7. BJP was decimated just a year back in Karnataka. This time, Congress could win only 9/28 seats, that too 3 out of those 9 were with a margin of <10k votes. What happened here!?

  14. Dark Lord permalink
    May 26, 2014 6:29 PM

    The % analysis is ultimately trash as voting behavior is different in first past the post system and PR system. For example, a BJP supported may vote for TDP in a constituency as there is no BJP candidate and given TDP has an alliance with BJP. If the supported was in Tamil Nadu, he might prefer AIADMK as he does not believe that BJP will win from TN and DMK is an alliance partner in UPA. Also, in case of PR, there will not be so many parties as lot of people prefer stable governments.

  15. May 27, 2014 8:02 PM

    Reblogged this on Skylight.

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