Bihar – The Difficult Terrain, But it is Modi all the way

VANI’s BLOGS, @vanichandra2010

This article was originally posted at:

Voting patterns have changed. Mediocre politicians , Media men, seasonal flies called Journos and pshephologists (except few) are still living in old ages. I made an analysis of the voting patterns in India since the dawn of Independence and we can conclude that old generation of voters fade away and new generations start to take over the fight of battle perceptions. We no longer live in the glory of Independence day sacrifices, Bangladesh wars, or lows like Himalayan blunders etc., With India joining the Global village, bread and butter issues gave place to better living standards, infrastructure, well paid jobs, security and women and child welfare,. Caste and religion are being marginalised slowly with youth seeing the reality and independent house-culture giving place to apartment culture. (More on this in later parts). I made an analysis on the voting patterns eight months before Lok Sabha Polls and clearly indicated that Modi was heading for a landslide, by his own strengths and opposition weaknesses.

In the 1952 elections Congress polled 44.99% of the votes polled across the country and secured 364 seats out of the 489 seats. More than 40 parties contested polls. Socialist Party stood a far second and Communists and Bharatiya Janasangh with a little over 3% vote share stood third and fourth. Polity was divided across the country in India during the first election itself, with a lot of non serious parties fighting elections. Congress securing less than 50% of vote share immediately after independence is a significant factor to be reckoned when we talk about the sharp divisions in the electorate in India.

In the 1957 elections Congress repeated the feat by securing 47.77% of total votes polled and 371 seats out of 490 seats. Independents secured 19% of the vote share, a significant factor to be reckoned. Socialist party retained its vote share while Janasangh secured almost 3% more than earlier elections.

In the 1962 general elections the vote share of Congress declined to 44.72% and it saw rise of regional forces like the DMK and Akali Dal and others and significant gains were recorded by the communists and Swatantra Party while Janasangh retained its share of vote. The decline of Congress as a national force started here though subsequent swings in its fortunes were seen later for various reasons.

In the 1967 election, which saw a disastrous war in October 1962 with China, demise of Nehru and Shastri, two Prime Ministers in the interim,Congress retained power. But these elections saw Congress mauled electorally though it retained majority with 283 seats out of 520. This election saw many states elect non-congress governments. With  two factions led by Indira Gandhi and Morarji Desai slugging it out, Indira Gandhi was expelled from the party when she formed the Congress (I) and led the first minority government in 1969 supported by CPI.

But unwilling to run a minority government Indira declared mid term elections in 1971 and rode her party to power with a landslide of 352 seats against 283 in the earlier election. She took bold decisions like war on Pakistan to liberate East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. This is  significant factor to be reckoned with, as charisma of a leader could win elections for a party struggling to keep its vote share. Congress increased its vote share to 43.68% despite many regional parties entering the fray and making the elections more divisive. BJP can hope to rewrite history by securing a similar vote share riding on the incumbency factor and charisma of its leader.

But the enormous economic cost of the war and refugee influx from Bangladesh and non-cooperation by USA and other world countries led India to its worst economic doom during this phase. Added to this the Allahabad High Court set aside her election in 1975. She declared emergency, arrested all dissenting voices and extended the term of Parliament. This is when strong anti-incumbency against the Congress swept the country, similar to the one we are seeing today.

For the first time in 1977, Congress was routed totally in elections and the newly formed Janata Party, with no strong leader to represent it won 51.89% of popular vote and 345 seats. A loose conglomerate of individual leaders having personal ambitions, the Janata Party died a natural death in 1980 with internal dissensions. In 1977 Congress fought elections on pre-poll alliances and on its own secured a meagre 34.52% of votes. Besides internal dissensions the Janata Party Government of the day appointed a commission of inquiry into the lapses during Emergency and a witch hunt was unleashed on her during the period by which she gained tremendous amount of sympathy across the country. This is significant as the Congress is repeating the same mistake in case of Modi, by which his sympathy vote is adding by the day among fence-sitters and this might be the game changer for BJP. Congress did not learn lessons from history even though some old leaders leaders of those days still continue to hold senior positions in the party. The reason might be that a sustained effort is being made from within the party to see the end of the road to the party in these elections.

In 1980 when Janata Party Government fell due to internal dissensions, Indira rode a wave of sympathy against the witch hunt by opposition leaders and won a landslide in alliance with smaller parties. Congress on its own secured simple majority with 286 seats. The vote share of Congress, though,  dipped further as it fought in alliance with smaller parties.

In 1984, after assassination of Indira, in the elections Congress secured 414 seats, securing 49.14% of votes. The TDP formed by NTR was the only party that stood the storm of sympathy wave and secured 30 seats in AP becoming the main opposition in Lok Sabha. Again, it is a watershed in Indian democracy. NTR proved how a non-corrupt leader with oratory skills to reach the common man can do to withstand a storm caused by sympathy wave. This is a very significant factor we should reckon in  the 2014 elections. No vote banks were necessary when it is sympathy, clean image and efficiency. In 2014, Modi is secure on both counts. Sympathy vote because of the constant hounding by Congress and media and his own added charisma.

The 1989 elections saw a reversal of fortunes for the congress that secured 197 seats with 39.53% vote share. The period between 1989 and 1991 saw a churning in Indian politics with faction leaders of various parties fighting for PM post and a mid term election was held in 1991.

The 1991 elections were held in two phases. First before the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in which Congress fared very poorly and post assassination when Congress swept polls but still got only 244 seats out of 545 with 35.66% vote share. This election saw the phenomenal rise of BJP which secured 120 seats with 20.04% vote share despite sympathy wave due to Rajiv’s death.

Post 1991 the Congress could manage to run a minority government for full five years under the able leadership of Mr.P.V.Narasimha Rao, the first Prime Minister from Congress from non-Nehru family to rule for five years with full authority and without outside interference. Here too we have to see how an effective leader can come out of the shadows of the dynasty and still rule the nation efficiently. Many voters voting in 2014 might be knowing the 1991-96 phase and the present leadership and compare both. This will be an additional scoring point for BJP.

In 1996, the BJP led the chart with 161 seats and the Congress stood second with 140 seats. Though A.B.Vajpayee formed the government, it could not muster enough support to cobble up a stable alliance and he resigned without facing Parliament. Congress played second fiddle to Deve Gowda and allowed him top form the United Front Government.After much real politic played by the Congress the UF Government fell in 1998 and fresh elections were held. Though A.B.Vjpayee formed Government of NDA, it lasted few months and fresh elections were held  in end 1999. Congress that secured 28.80% vote share in 1996 dropped further to 25.82% in 1998.

During 1999 elections, Congress, though regaining the 28.80% vote share lost power to NDA which ruled for five years with outside support from TDP.

In 2004 BJP lost power to the Congress led UPA alliance though it retained its vote share of 1999. The first term of UPA saw India grow phenomenally due to many factors despite lack of  efficient delivery system of the government and riding on the back of middle class support it retained power in 2009.

The period from 2009 to 2013 saw the gradual decline of morality in public life with many scandals involving top leaders of ruling alliance coming out into the open. We stand now at the crossroads with the nation looking for change and Modi emerging as the undisputed leader of change mongers.

If we observe the voting percentage patterns, more number of people got voting rights since 1952 due to reduction in age to 18 years for voting. The percentage of voting substantially increased from 44.77% in 1952 to 59.7% in 2009. When strong anti incumbency was discernible it climbed up to 63%.

I also gave a brief picture of the opinion polls and exit polls in Indian elections by various agencies. You can see many are far from real picture. India is a difficult country for surveys, as many hide their preferences and those who tell the truth are minimal. Secondly, poll agencies go on patterns of earlier polls, that are now fast changing with mass reach of information and illiteracy rate coming down.

Refer this table for LS elections.

Pre-poll surveys

Agency                   Dates                                  Result

CNN/IBN,ICDS         8Jan to 15 Sep.2009           UPA 215-235, NDA 165-185, others 125-135

Star-Nielson              5Mar to 17 Mar.2009          UPA 257(Cong.144),NDA -184, Others 96+

Star-Neilson              26Mar to 3 Apr.2009           UPA 203 9Cong155), NDA-191, Others -104+39+

Outlook-The Week    Mar-Apr 2009                      UPA 234 (Cong 144), NDA 86, Others -112+

Times of India            March, 2009                       UPA 201 (Cong 146), NDA- 195, Others-147+

Exit polls


Dainik Bhaskar         13 May,2009               UPA 185-205,NDa 165-185, Others 135-165

Star-Neilson                -DO-                         UPA 199, NDA 196, Others 136

India TV-C-Voter         -DO-                         UPA 189-201, NDA 183-195, Others 105-121

One reason I gave for Modi landslide then was this.

“Congress, in its effort to play down the effect of Modi started talking Modi, singing Modi, dancing Modi and finally they forgot that they are a national party with a leader whose name they forgot! Alas! The situation was brought upon them by their own ineptness of handling a strong adversary. ”

With Bihar election looming large on the horizon, the moot question is “Did Congress learn not to target a very strong adversary day in and day out?” The answer is a cear “NO”. With Parliament disruption continuing without strong reasons and other opposition parties playing hide and seek, the game for Congress is “The King and last pawn left out” in a chess game. LAB did not pay as much dividends as possible because of the hefty compensations being offered and private sector being restricted in this aspect, as far as possible. In Growth versus Disruption game, Growth wins. But let us assess various scenarios, strengths and wekanesses of the two groupings, strengths of the two leaders in the fray. So, I call this blog again as “MODI ALL THE WAY AGAIN IN 2015, IN BIHAR”.

Please read my assessment with facts, figures, various personalities, what the people want and what Nitish and Modi delivered, will caste equations work, will Lalu spoil the party for Nitish and where exactly Congress stands in the melee called “Bihar Polls”?.

To be frank, Bihar is the most difficult terrain for psephologists. If you add one positive, you may need to deduct two negatives. If you multiply caste, religion votes you may have to divide them with aspiring youth and the way they live in Bihar and the way they live outside Bihar. So, we can brush aside the pre-poll surveys as sham. Let us make individual assessment as far as possible. We too might go awry, but I am confident it is “MODI ALL THE WAY” this time around again.

In the next article on the series, I will talk about different players in the Pariwar and how they add and deduct the Nitish vote. And how Nitish will be left alone at the end of the battle, the cursed Karna in Mahabharata. He must have been on the Dharma side but chose Adharma, because of envy on Arjuna, another great warrior of many battles. Stay tuned….

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