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Assembly Elections 2023: Will 5 State Polls Impact 2024 Result? Here's the Data

Data shows that the Assembly elections have a clear impact on the Lok Sabha results in only one out of the 5 states.

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Elections
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The Assembly election cycle in the winter before the Lok Sabha polls has often been referred to as a dress rehearsal or a semi-final before the general elections. This is mainly due to two reasons:

The fact that since 1998 these elections have been taking place less than a year before the Lok Sabha polls. Since 2003, the gap between the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls has been less than six months.

Since then, this cycle has comprised of elections in 4 to 5 states, including key Hindi heartland states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh (formed in 2000).

However, does this election cycle really affect what happens in the Lok Sabha elections?

To understand this, we need to compare the results of the Assembly elections with the Lok Sabha elections that took place a few months later in each of these states.

Let's go state by state.

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Rajasthan

Voters in Rajasthan seem to be voting differently in state and national elections even though they are just a few months apart.

In 1998, Rajasthan gave a massive sweep to the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress in the Assembly elections but less than a year later, the state gave BJP a majority of seats at the national level.

(Note: This graph and all the graphs below refer to the percentage of seats won, not the seat tally or vote share.)

Between 2003 to 2014, the results in Rajasthan revealed a pattern. The party which won the state election won with an even bigger margin at the Lok Sabha level.

This pattern, however, changed in 2018-19 when the Congress won the state election but failed to win even a single seat from the state in the Lok Sabha.

Madhya Pradesh

The case of Madhya Pradesh is similar. The Congress won the state in 1998 but the BJP swept the seats in MP at the Lok Sabha level the next year.

In 2003-04, BJP swept both at the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in the state.

In 2008, the BJP won a comfortable majority in the Assembly elections but its lead reduced at the Lok Sabha level.

In 2013, the party won the Assembly elections and won with an even bigger margin at the Lok Sabha level.

In 2018 the Congress managed to overtake the BJP in terms of seats and form the government but it was reduced to just one seat in the Lok Sabha elections a few months later.

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Chhattisgarh

Since Chhattisgarh was formed in 2000, we'll use data from the 2003 Assembly election onwards.

The pattern in Chhattisgarh has been that the BJP has dominated the state at the Lok Sabha level consistently, irrespective of whether the party is in power in the state or not. Since the formation of the state, the Congress has won only one or two Lok Sabha seats out of 11.

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Mizoram

Mizoram is the only state where there is a clear correlation between winning the Assembly elections and doing well in the state in the Lok Sabha elections a few months later.

Since 1998, the party that has won the state has gone on to win the solitary Lok Sabha seat from the state.

The MNF, which ruled Mizoram from 1998 to 2008, won the Mizoram Lok Sabha seat in 1999 (MNF backed Independent) and 2004. On the other hand, the Congress was in power from 2008 to 2018 and won the Mizoram Lok Sabha seat in 2009 and 2014. The MNF returned to power in 2018 and won the Lok Sabha seat in 2019, repeating history.

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Telangana

Telangana was formed only a decade ago and since then it has only seen two Lok Sabha elections. In 2014, the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections were held simultaneously. The state joined the election cycle of MP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram in 2018 after then chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao dissolved the Assembly a few months before time.

Therefore we can only make a comparison between the 2018 Assembly poll and 2019 Lok Sabha poll. The only trend one could see is that the BJP and Congress did substantially well at the Lok Sabha level compared to the Assembly level while the TRS (now BRS) had a much more sizable lead at the state level.

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So Is There a Pattern?

  • The BJP clearly is at an advantage at the Lok Sabha level. Except the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has dominated the three Hindi heartland states - Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh at the Lok Sabha level consistently since 1999.

  • The vote share of the BJP sizably increases at the national level in these states compared to the Assembly level. It seems that these are clearly BJP leaning states nationally and the Congress is more competitive at the state level.

  • Smaller parties and regional parties tend to do much worse at the Lok Sabha level. This is a national level trend and not restricted to these states. However, there have been exceptions like the BSP's win in Madhya Pradesh's Rewa in 2009. In the same election, Kirodi Lal Meena won as an Independent from Rajasthan's Dausa seat in what was a caste-polarised local battle between Meenas and Gujjars in the area.

  • The only clear positive correlation between the Assembly and Lok Sabha result has been in Mizoram.

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Why the State Elections Still Matter in the Run-Up to 2024

  • The results aren't so much an indicator of what's going to happen at the Lok Sabha level but they can help shape the narrative in the coming months especially as three of the states are mostly bipolar contests between the BJP and the Congress.

  • If the Congress wins three out of five states, it would be a major boost for the party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

  • However, winning two out of the three Hindi heartland states would be a shot in the arm for the BJP as it would have wrested a state from the Congress.

  • Winning Telangana in particular would be very beneficial for the Congress from the point of view of funds for the Lok Sabha elections.

  • The fate of a number of regional parties are at stake in these elections: BRS and AIMIM in Telangana, Mizo National Front and the newly formed Zoram People's Movement in Mizoram, Rashtriya Loktantrik Party and Bharatiya Adivasi Party in Rajasthan and BSP in all the states except Mizoram. The result could shape the choices of these parties in the run-up to 2024.

  • Since BJP fought all the elections in PM Narendra Modi's name without projecting regional leaders, the results would indicate both the strength and the limits of the PM's appeal in state elections.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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