New Delhi: While the jury is still out to decide whether the Congress’s trifecta win in the Hindi heartland should be credited to Rahul Gandhi, one thing is clear: the BJP faces a stiff challenge in the Lok Sabha next year.
The wins in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have made the Congress a clear challenger to the BJP in western and central India. The biggest gain from these elections is the possibility of the Congress translating these Assembly election wins into as many as 30 seats during the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
An analysis by News18 of the constituency wise poll data of the Assembly elections in these three states shows that the BJP may lose as many as 30 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 if the latest voting trends hold true for the respective Lok Sabha seats. This means a substantial dip for the BJP from 2014 when the party had swept these states winning 62 out of 65 seats in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
Also, with the BJP losing as many as 177 Assembly seats in these states — almost 47% of what it held in 2013 — the BJP vote share and seat share could further dip in these states during 2019, making the contest all the more interesting because of many regional political parties that would be in the fray.
On the other hand, the Congress has gained 163 Assembly seats — an increase of 138% — over what it held after 2013 elections in these states.
Decoding the Congress Wins
The BJP had swept the three states of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. It won 62 out of the 65 Lok Sabha constituencies in these three states, leaving the Congress with just three seats; two in Madhya Pradesh, one in Chhattisgarh. The party won no seats in Rajasthan.
An analysis of the constituency wise poll data show that each Lok Sabha seat has an average of seven to nine Assembly segments in Chhattisgarh, eight segments in Rajasthan and seven or nine segments in Madhya Pradesh. If the voter preference in these assembly segments were to hold till 2019, the Lok Sabha constituencies that cover these Assembly seats will go to the Congress.
For example, the study of party-wise votes polled for each constituency (according to the data released by the Election Commission of India) foretell that the Congress could sweep the state of Chhattisgarh winning 10 of 11 Lok Sabha seats. In Rajasthan, the BJP’s seat share may come down to 12 to 13 Lok Sabha seats against its 25-seat sweep in 2014. In Madhya Pradesh the BJP may be reduced to 17 Lok Sabha seats as against the 27 seats the party won in 2014.
A state wise break down vote preference analysis further consolidates this statement.
In Chhattisgarh, the Congress has gained an absolute majority after being out of power for the last 15 years. In 2014, when the BJP had won 10 out of 11 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the Congress only managed to win a single seat which came only from Durg, a Sahu OBC community dominated seat. This tally could be reversed if the voter preference from yesterday’s results hold true, giving Congress a strong lead in the other 10 Lok Sabha seats.
The Congress has another reason to cherish after the Chhattisgarh results came out. The only Lok Sabha segment (a cluster of different Assembly seats) where the saffron party fared well is Bilaspur, a seat which the BJP hasn't lost since 1996.
The Congress’s dominance in other seats other than the Bilaspur segment may very well translate into staggering wins for the party in other Lok Sabha segments.
Assembly elections are a useful predictor of swing in the Lok Sabha elections. That’s why the trend could repeat itself in Rajasthan too. In Rajasthan, another state that the BJP swept in 2014 Lok Sabha elections after winning all the 25 seats, the Congress could be very well ahead in at least 12-14 Lok Sabha seats.
However, there is a silver lining for the BJP in the state. The party improved significantly in the segments that fall under the Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha constituencies, which it had lost badly in the bypolls earlier this year.
The state of Madhya Pradesh could go the same way in 2019 if the vote preference trends hold till that time. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress won just two Lok Sabha seats, one by Kamal Nath and the other by Jyotiraditya Scindia.
However, with the Congress managing to get 114 seats this time around— 43 more than what it got in 2013 — and on course to form the government in the state, the constituency wise poll data analysis show that the grand old party could be very well ahead in almost 11 to 13 out of the 29 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
All this arithmetic could help the Congress win more than 30 Lok Sabha seats in these states. But there’s a caveat: the vote preference during the Assembly polls needs to hold till the day when the votes are cast in these states.