Maharashtra & Haryana Polls: Is BJP’s Win a Foregone Conclusion?
BJP is well placed to win the upcoming Assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra.
BJP is well placed to win the upcoming Assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra.(Photo: Kamran Akhter/The Quint)

Maharashtra & Haryana Polls: Is BJP’s Win a Foregone Conclusion?

Maharashtra and Haryana will be voting in their respective Assembly elections on 21 October. These are the first major electoral contests since Narendra Modi-led BJP’s victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

At least one opinion poll – by CVoter – has predicted that the BJP is heading for a comfortable victory on its own in Haryana and with its ally Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.

There might be some substance to this. The past few Assembly polls in both the states have seen the victory of whichever party did well in the respective states in the Lok Sabha elections.

Assembly elections have been held a few months after the Lok Sabha polls since 2000 in Haryana and since 2004 in Maharashtra.

Comparing the change in vote shares of different parties between the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections would give us an idea of what to expect in the upcoming polls.

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Maharashtra

Since 2004, Assembly polls in Maharashtra have mostly been held 5-6 months after the Lok Sabha elections.

The change in the vote share of the Congress, NCP, BJP, Shiv Sena and ‘Others’ between Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Maharashtra since 2004 reveals a few trends:

  • The parties which lost the Lok Sabha elections haven’t staged a major recovery in the Assembly elections, a few months later. This is true of the BJP & Shiv Sena in 2004 and 2009 and the Congress and NCP in 2014.
  • Big parties tend to get a lesser vote share in Assembly polls than Lok Sabha polls. The only exception is Congress’ 1.5 percentage points gain in 2009. NCP’s 1.1 percentage points gain and BJP’s 0.2 points gain in 2014 doesn’t come in the same category as both parties contested more seats than the Lok Sabha polls, due to the breakdown of alliances.
  • In Assembly elections, the vote share of the party losing the Lok Sabha election tends to fall more than that of the party which won the election. The major exception here is the Shiv Sena’s 1.4 percentage point fall in the 2014 Assembly polls compared to the Lok Sabha polls. This was despite the fact that the party contested more seats than in the Lok Sabha polls.
  • Predictably, smaller parties and Independents have done better in Assembly polls than in Lok Sabha polls.

So, what could happen in the Assembly polls?

Here’s what happened in the Lok Sabha polls.

  • In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP and Shiv Sena had a healthy vote share of 50.9 percent between them, compared to the Congress-NCP’s 31.8 percent.
  • If alliances stay as they are, there could a marginal decline in the BJP and Shiv Sena’s vote share, as is to be expected in an Assembly poll.
  • If the past pattern is anything to go by, there is unlikely to be any major improvement in the Congress-NCP’s vote share. Therefore, the BJP-Sena alliance is likely to retain a sizeable lead.
  • There could be gains for Independents and smaller players like the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi.
  • MNS, which didn’t contest the Lok Sabha polls, is contesting the Assembly polls. Much of its votes could be at the expense of the Shiv Sena.

Haryana

The gap between Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Haryana has been around 5-6 months, except in 2005, when the Assembly polls were held 10 months after the Lok Sabha polls mainly due to the fact that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee advanced the 2004 general elections.

The gap again become short in 2009, when the then Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda dissolved the Assembly ahead of schedule. These are the trends that the change in vote share between the two elections indicate:

  • Except for a small 0.4 percentage point increase in the Congress vote share in 2005, the vote share of national parties has always fallen in the Assembly elections compared to Lok Sabha polls a few months earlier.
  • On the other hand, Independents and smaller state parties have invariably done better in Assembly polls than Lok Sabha elections.
  • This pattern holds true for the Indian National Lok Dal as well, whose vote share increased in the 2000, 2005 and 2009 Assembly polls compared to the Lok Sabha polls. In 2014, however, its vote share declined by a tiny 0.3 percentage points.
  • Except in 2000, BSP has done better in national elections compared to state elections. This could be connected to BSP chief Mayawati being projected as a PM contender in the Lok Sabha elections.

So, what could happen in the Assembly polls?

Here’s the vote share in the Lok Sabha polls.

  • BJP had a huge vote share of 58 percent in Haryana in the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year. This could reduce a bit but the lead is too substantial for the Congress to overcome.
  • Past data suggests that the Congress’ vote share will also reduce from the 28.4 percent it secured in the Lok Sabha polls. However, it is possible that this may not happen as the party could gain some ground in Jat dominated seats and Muslim-dominated Mewat.
  • The INLD, which always did better in Assembly elections compared to Lok Sabha elections, has been weakened due to the split and the formation of the Jannayak Janata Party. The INLD and JJP’s vote share was less than even 10 percent in the Lok Sabha elections. Therefore, they may not be in a position to make the kind of gains the INLD had made in past Assembly elections. In places where INLD and JJP have weakened due to the split, Jat voters opposed to BJP could gravitate towards Congress, which has given the charge to Jat leader and former CM Hooda.

Therefore past election data suggests that BJP has a good chance of retaining both Maharashtra (with Shiv Sena) and Haryana, even if it is with a slightly reduced margin.

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