Most of you might remember that in 2008 the BJP didn’t actually get an absolute majority in the assembly, and had to rely on independents to form the government. This led to the now infamous Operation Lotus where the BJP got opposition MLAs to resign their seats and contest again on a BJP ticket. Successive rebellions kept the government on tenterhooks, and some say it is indeed fortuitous that it lasted its full term, but it must not be forgotten that the BJP’s “victory” was an extremely narrow one to begin with.
While the BJP ended up as the single largest party with 110 seats (with the Congress second with 79), the Congress actually had a larger share of the popular vote compared to the BJP (34% versus 33% respectively). However, it can be said that the BJP “picked its battles” concentrating on its strongholds in North Karnataka, Bangalore and the coastal areas, and thus managed to surge ahead of the Congress in terms of seats.
However, analysis shows that even this surge in terms of seats was rather shaky. It was a result of coming together of a number of forces – a united BJP under Yeddyurappa’s leadership, the support of the Lingayat Mutts and Reddy brothers, and good candidate selection. Today, we will analyze how the 2008 Elections would have gone if Yeddyurappa’s KJP and B Sriramulu’s BSR congress had split from the BJP ahead of those elections.
The KJP and BSR Congress played key roles in the recent urban local body elections. Based on the local body elections, we project in each parliamentary constituency how much of what might have been the undivided BJP’s votes have gone to these breakaways. We assume that all the vote that the KJP or BSR congress got came from what the united BJP would have otherwise got. Next, we look at the 2008 Assembly election numbers and for each constituency, allocate the BJP’s votes among the BJP, KJP and BSR Congress proportional to their performance in the urban local body elections in that area.
The results, given below are rather surprising. While the KJP itself would have won not more than a handful of seats and the BSR Congress would have won nothing, our analysis shows that the BJP’s seats would have almost come down by half, with the Congress getting the lion’s share of what the BJP lost!
It would be interesting to see where the BJP lost the seats. The following graph shows, by Parliamentary constituency the number of Assembly constituencies that the BJP lost thanks to the parting with the KJP and BSR Congress.
So what are the implications? The big insight is that it is indeed bad tidings for the BJP. Even if the party were to have the same public sympathy that it did in 2008 (highly unlikely, given its government’s performance), it is going to struggle to get anywhere close to a majority. Currently the Congress is in as much of a mess as it was in in 2008, with rampant infighting and a battle between Parameshwar and Siddaramaiah for control of ticket distribution. Our analysis shows that even if the Congress does as well as it did in 2008 (remember that our ULB-based analysis showed it would do better), it stands to gain an absolute majority. There is no surprise why there is so much clamour for tickets within the Congress.