Lok Sabha elections 2019: How the political landscape changed in the last 5 years - Hindustan Times

Lok Sabha elections 2019: How the political landscape changed in the last 5 years

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByAbhishek Jha and Vijdan Mohammad Kawoosa
Mar 11, 2019 04:35 PM IST

The ruling party outperformed the Congress in direct contest states in 2014, but the main opposition party has regained some ground in these areas.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 282 Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 elections, while the Congress was reduced to an all-time low tally of just 44. The BJP’s stellar victory was the result of a multi-class multi-caste coalition forged by the party in the run up to the elections. According to the 2014 National Election Study by CSDS-Lokniti, the party increased its support across social and economic groups (see Chart 1).

One important factor behind the BJP’s victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections was a low degree of Opposition unity.(HT File Photo)
One important factor behind the BJP’s victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections was a low degree of Opposition unity.(HT File Photo)

How has the political scene changed in the last five years?  

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HT has extrapolated the results of all assembly elections held after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls to see how they would translate in terms of Lok Sabha seats. Out of the total 543 Lok Sabha seats, 489 have had assembly elections until now. Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh accounting 49 Lok Sabha seats will have assembly elections along with the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. There are five Lok Sabha seats in Union Territories which do not have assembly elections.

Our analysis shows that if assembly performances were to be aggregated at the Parliamentary Constituency (PC) level, the BJP has suffered as 19% decline in its tally of 274 in these states, while the Congress has added 48 more seats to its tally of 43 in 2014 (see chart 3 and 4).

One important factor behind the BJP’s victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections was a low degree of Opposition unity. One-third of the BJP’s 282 seats came from PCs where votes polled by the candidate who finished at the third position polled were greater than the victory margin. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar alone accounted for 52 such seats (see chart 2).  

The BJP’s 2019 performance will depend on both its ability to retain its 2014 voters, as well as an increase or decrease in the degree of Opposition unity.

A summary of how things changed between the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and the subsequent assembly elections could be useful in understanding what might happen in 2019.

2014: Four major states; Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir, went to polls in 2014 after the Lok Sabha elections. The BJP went on to form governments in each of these states. In terms of seats, the BJP recorded its best-ever performances in all these states. An important feature of these elections was lack of alliance among major opposition parties in each of these states.  

2015: The BJP lost badly in the Delhi and Bihar assembly elections. While the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won 67 out 70 seats in the Delhi elections, a grand alliance of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress won a two-thirds majority against the NDA. The Bihar results had an important message as the BJP lost the elections despite having the highest vote share in the state. This triggered talks of an all-in-unity strategy to counter the BJP’s growing popularity and political footprint in the country. This also raised the question of whether non-Congress parties were better equipped to challenge the BJP.

2016: Three out of the four major states – West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu – which went to polls in 2016, were areas where the BJP had not performed well historically. In Assam, the BJP continued with its anti-Congress offensive, dislodging the three-term Congress government in the elections. The Assam victory was to act as a pivot for BJP’s subsequent offensive in the north-eastern region of the country.

2017: It was Uttar Pradesh which had catapulted the BJP to a Lok Sabha majority in 2014. With the two major regional parties – Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) – fighting separately and the BJP retaining its 2014 vote share, UP gave an overwhelming majority to the BJP in 2017. The party also won the elections in Uttarakhand and even formed a government in Goa despite getting lesser number of seats than the Congress. While the Congress wrested Punjab from the NDA, it was on the verge of extinction in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in terms of seats. The impact of the Uttar Pradesh victory played an important role in the JD-U breaking ranks with the grand alliance in Bihar and rejoining the NDA in August, 2017.


The euphoria of the Uttar Pradesh victory was seriously challenged when the Congress managed to make a dent in the BJP’s 2012 tally in the Gujarat assembly elections held in December 2017. The BJP faced a reduction in number of seats despite increasing its vote share from 2012. The Gujarat election also saw the arrival of rural distress as a political issue; with the Congress performing significantly well in rural areas. It also raised questions whether anti- incumbency was beginning to catch up with the BJP. Gujarat was also the first major state under BJP rule to go to polls after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

2018: The BJP went to the 2018 Karnataka elections as not just the main opposition party, but also a more united force compared to 2013, when key leaders such as BS Yeddyurappa and B Sriramulu had defected. While it emerged as the largest party, the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) struck a post-poll alliance to prevent it from forming a government. The Karnataka results allowed the BJP to regain its upper hand vis-à-vis the Congress after 2017 Gujarat results. This changed drastically in elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where the Congress surged ahead of the BJP without any pre-poll alliances. The BJP had been in power in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for three continuous terms.

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