The 2015 Delhi Legislative Assembly was not just a milestone moment for Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), but also for the Indian National Congress. While AAP secured a resounding mandate — winning 67 of the 70 Assembly seats — the Congress failed to win any. Even though it was riding on a ‘Narendra Modi wave’, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had managed to win just the three remaining seats.
This was for the first time that the Congress had failed to open its account in Delhi.
The state-level polls in Delhi for the last two decades had been a two-party contest between the Congress and the BJP. But, AAP’s entry into the picture changed the political landscape in Delhi as it largely ate into Congress’ vote share.
Now, Congress is hoping for a revival. Remember, while it has lost footing at the Centre, it has managed to clinch certain state-level contests in the last few years. It won Punjab and emerged as the single-largest party in Manipur and Goa in 2017. It snatched Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan from the BJP in 2018. It made a sudden and unexpected rise in Haryana, it was able to form the government in Maharashtra with ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and rival Shiv Sena.
Congress’ hope for revival is not only based on the saying: “Once you have hit rock bottom and lived, there is only one place you can go, and that is up”.
The party, perhaps, has also drawn optimism from the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Congress had benefitted from the fact that voters did not see AAP as a pan-India opposition force.
Congress secured the second highest vote share in the general election (in Delhi) — ahead of AAP.
At the same time, BJP continues to bank on PM Modi’s popularity and often campaigns talking about its “decisive” central leadership. It also hopes that the PM Modi’s popularity and its performance in the Lok Sabha polls would rub-off during the Delhi election.
While the BJP won all seven parliamentary seats in Delhi, Congress finished second in five of them. AAP finished second in the remaining two.
BJP secured 56.6 percent votes in the national capital. This was significantly more than 46.4 percent it won in 2014. Congress’ vote share stood at 22.5 percent, significantly more than 15.1 percent in 2014. On the other hand, AAP’s vote share plummeted from 32.9 percent in 2014 to 18.1 percent.
However, in what may be a cause of dismay for the Congress and the BJP, a clear pattern has emerged in the way people have voted at the central level and at the state level.
Three states headed for state elections after the 2019 general election concluded. These were Haryana and Maharashtra in October 2019 and Jharkhand in December 2019.
Haryana: BJP won all of the 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana and secured a 58.02 percent vote share. Congress’ vote share was 28.4 percent.
In the assembly election, BJP failed to win a majority on its own. The saffron party won 40 of the total 90 seats in the House. Congress won 31 seats. BJP secured 36.5 percent votes to finish ahead of Congress’ 28.1 percent.
Maharashtra: The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance had won 41 of the 48 seats (about 85 percent seats). Together their vote share was over 50 percent.
However, in the assembly election held six months later, it fell to around 42 percent.
In terms of the seats, the BJP-Sena pre-poll alliance had secured 169 of the 288 seats (about 58 percent seats).
Jharkhand: The BJP had won 11 of the 14 parliamentary seats in the state. Its ally All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) had won one seat. The Congress-Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) combination won the remaining two. BJP’s vote share itself was about 50.9 percent.
However, in the assembly election, BJP managed to win just 25 of the total 80 seats. Its vote share plummeted to 33.4 percent. On the other hand, the Congress and JMM alliance bagged 46 seats. Their vote share jumped to 32.5 percent votes from a combined vote share of 27.4 percent.
It is to be noted that BJP was fighting as an incumbent in all three states mentioned above. In retrospect, election results in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan also fit into this pattern.
BJP had lost Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in December 2018. But it still won 9/11 seats in Chhattisgarh, 28/29 in Madhya Pradesh and 24/25 in Rajasthan. The remaining one seat in Rajasthan was in fact won by its ally Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP).
The crux is that people’s voting choices seem to be changing depending on the local issues and factors such as who is on the ballot. Voters are also drawing a clear distinction between state and central politics and voting accordingly. If this pattern holds on February 11, it would not only lead to disappointment in the Congress and BJP camps.Delhi Election 2020: For the latest news, view and updates, click here