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Mayawati’s Alliance With Ajit Jogi is a Dampener for the Congress

Current political environment is the best time for the Congress to wrest both MP and Chhattisgarh from the BJP.

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Opinion
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Mayawati has announced an alliance with Ajit Jogi’s Janata Congress in Chhattisgarh. This is a setback for the Congress as the party will be under pressure to offer more seats to the BSP in Madhya Pradesh. While Behenji is asking for 50 seats currently, Congress is willing to offer less than 30 seats.

Favourable Political Scenario for Congress

The current political scenario suits well for the Congress which can wrest both Madhya Pradesh (MP) and Chhattisgarh from the BJP. Three factors which can work in favour of the Grand Old Party include:

  1. BJP is suffering from double anti-incumbency (both at the Centre as well as in states).
  2. Opinion polls suggest that voters are more open for change than ever before, particularly in MP.
  3. Last but not the least, economic performance has been a problem in both MP and Chhattisgarh.

In MP, the per capita GDP growth has constantly touched below 5 percent, at least three times in the last five years, whereas between 2008 to 2013, it went below 5 percent only once.

Chhattisgarh which was once considered to be a leader in growth has been a laggard since 2014 owing to low prices of ores (45 percent of GDP is dependent on industry). While the state has recovered to some extent, it is still lagging behind other states.

Given the current state of affairs, it sounds like a great opportunity for the Congress party.

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Voters Prefer Stability

In the last five elections, from 1993 to 2013, voters in both MP and Chhattisgarh have changed their respective government only once. While Congress has enjoyed three terms, BJP has had a stint in power for as many as six times to date. Unlike other states, voters here are far less volatile. If one combines the votes of MP and Chhattisgarh and take a look at the 20-year-period between 1993 and 2013, here are some statistics:

  • Average change in vote share from one election to another for any party/group – 2.3 percent.
  • Highest ever swing in vote share – 6.9 percent negative
  • Percent of times swing was greater than 4 percent – 2 out of 16 times
Essentially, voters here prefer stability over swinging from one party to another. Therefore, chances of a huge swing from BJP to Congress are quite low. This is the main reason why in spite of low vote share differences in Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh has managed to get himself re-elected again and again.
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So Why Is Mayawati Important?

BSP had an average vote share of 6.7 percent between 1993 and 2013 in MP and Chhattisgarh.

This is significant by any standard given the fact that the average gap in vote share between BJP and Congress has been 5.2 percent between 1993 and 2013 with the difference touching almost 7.6 percent in the last three elections (MP and Chhattisgarh combined).

In MP alone, the average vote share gap has been a massive 10 percent with BSP winning about 7.7 percent of the vote in the last three elections. A BSP Congress alliance would have bridged the gap significantly and with a small swing could have converted into an electoral victory.

If one were to look at Chhattisgarh alone, the gap in vote share between BJP and Congress in the last three elections was 1.7 percent. With BSP having about 4.4 percent share in Chhattisgarh in 2013, an alliance with Congress would have been a big advantage there.

Now with BSP aligning with Ajit Jogi, Congress will not only have to deal with some loss of its own vote, it will also lose some vote because voters might find the new alliance to be more viable. It could, in turn, be a disaster for Congress in Chhattisgarh.

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Overall, with voters who are less volatile and BJP having a reasonable advantage, Congress would have been in a comfortable position if the party had BSP on board as an ally.

An alliance with BSP would have meant a significant reduction in the gap between BJP and Congress-led alliance.

Add a 2.3 percent swing and large number of seats in both Chhattisgarh and MP would have swung towards the Congress-led alliance and delivered government in both the states to the Congress. Lastly, when voters see a strong alliance, the alliance tends to get another 1-2 percent advantage.

Instead, the Congress will now have to manufacture a swing of 4-5 percent in MP and 3-4 percent in Chhattisgarh on its own to defeat BJP.

In Chhattisgarh, the absence of a strong leader within Congress puts it at an even bigger disadvantage. While Mayawati’s announcement has put a spanner in the works, the Congress party still has some time to save itself in MP. The question is : Can they do it?

(The opinion expressed above are of the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor takes responsibility for the same. The author Subhash Chandra is a Political and Economics Commentator and Founder of CrowdWisdom360, a crowdsourcing company.)

(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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Topics:  Mayawati   BSP   Ajit Jogi 

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