From 2014-2024 – 282, 303, 240: Charting shift in BJP’s tally | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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From 2014-2024 – 282, 303, 240: Charting shift in BJP’s tally

Jun 06, 2024 08:34 AM IST

BJP improved to 303 seats in 2019, but has won 240 seats in 2024, when the majority mark is 272. How has this shift happened?

In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 282 of India’s 543 Lok Sabha seats, the first straight majority for any party since 1984. It improved this tally to 303 seats in 2019, but has won 240 seats in 2024, when the majority mark is 272. How has this shift happened? An HT analysis shows that the while popular support for the party is not that different from that in 2014 or 2019, its ability to convert them to seats has decreased in these elections. To be sure, there are indeed pockets where the party also lost popular support, but this does not reflect in national-level statistics because the BJP gained vote share in states where it has traditionally been weak. However, these vote share gains were not enough to compensate for the loss of seats in strong states. Here are four charts that explain this change:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with senior NDA leaders in Delhi on Wednesday. (ANI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with senior NDA leaders in Delhi on Wednesday. (ANI)

BJP’s ability to convert votes to seats decreased

BJP’s vote share in 2014 and 2019 was 31% and 37.3%. In 2024, this number is 36.6%. This shows that popular support for the party has not decreased since 2014. To be sure, the party contested 441 seats in 2024, compared to 428 in 2014 and 436 in 2019. A comparable measure of the party’s popular support may be its vote share in the seats it has contested. This number does not show a very different trend. However, the party’s ability to convert votes to seats has decreased below the level seen in both 2014 and 2019. Its seat share to vote share ratio has decreased from 1.68 in 2014 and 1.50 in 2019 to xx in 2024. This is closer to figure seen in 2004 and 2009, when this number was 1.15 and 1.14.

The number of seats with 50% or more vote share decreased below 2019 levels

If a party wins more than 50% vote share in a PC, it can be said to be invincible in that PC in Indian elections. This is because no amount of counter-consolidation can defeat the party in that PC. The proportion of such PCs where BJP won 50% vote share was very high in 2014 and 2019. 48% of BJP wins in 2014 came with a 50% vote share. This increased to 74% in 2019. In 2024, these numbers have decreased compared to 2019, although they are still somewhat better than in 2014.

Strike rate down against both Congress and other parties

One of the big reasons for BJP’s success in 2014 and 2019 was its high strike rate, which was even higher against Congress. Strike rate against Congress here is taken as strike rate in seats where the Congress finished first or second. Compared to BJP’s overall strike rate of 65.9% and 69.5% in 2014 and 2019, its strike rate against the Congress was 70.6%, 79.5%. In 2024, BJP’s strike rate overall and against Congress has decreased by roughly the same degree. BJP’s strike rate overall and against Congress is now 0.78 and 0.79 times that in 2019. To be sure, BJP still has a better strike rate against Congress than other parties.

Loss in popular support in states that BJP had swept earlier, and gains where they are not enough to win seats

This is the reason why BJP’s strike rate and seat share to vote share ratio has decreased compared to 2019 although its overall vote share is similar to 2019. Among 18 big states (states with 10 or more Lok Sabha seats), BJP won vote shares of at least 50% in eight in 2019: Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Karnataka. Therefore, BJP swept or nearly swept all these states. In five of these states – all but Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh -- the party has lost vote share by five percentage points or more this time. This has resulted in a loss of seats in all the five states. Despite loss of vote share in these five states, the party has not lost vote share at the national level because it increased vote share by more than five percentage points in Punjab, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana. However, in three of these states -- Tamil Nadu, Punjab, and Andhra Pradesh – the party’s vote share is still under 20%. While the BJP’s alliance with Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has nearly swept Andhra Pradesh, the party’s own seat share is limited because of the alliance. Therefore, the vote share gain in all three states has not compensated for the loss of seats in the other states.

One of the big reasons for BJP’s success in 2014 and 2019 was its high strike rate.
One of the big reasons for BJP’s success in 2014 and 2019 was its high strike rate.

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