Five things to look out for in the 2019 Lok Sabha results

With just four days to go for the election results, India is waiting eagerly to know who will form the government at the Centre.

Will Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party manage to retain power, or will there be a Congress or a Third/Federal Front government in Delhi?

While the exit poll results will be out on Sunday, the past trend suggests the polls could themselves be hung, giving mixed results.

There are five things to look out for in the 2019 results which will shape the look and feel of the Parliament:

1. Ability of Mahagathbandhan (MGB) to seamlessly transfer votes in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance is facing a formidable challenge from the Mahagathbandhan in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. The NDA had won 116 out of 134 seats in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The success or failure of any alliance depends upon the ability of the partners to seamlessly transfer votes to each other. The higher the leakage, the higher the rate of failure of the alliance.

Vote Share of NDA vs MGB in 2014 Lok Sabha Polls

Graph 1


The MGB — consisting of Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal in Uttar Pradesh — has an aggregate vote share similar to NDA. Even if it is able to retain without making a dent in NDA vote bank, it would be able to pose a very serious threat. In Jharkhand MGB consisting of =Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, RJD, Congress and JVM is a formidable force to reckon with. In Bihar though NDA is ahead of MGB consisting of RJD, Congress, RLSP, HAM, VIP, CPI-ML and Sharad Yadav’s party, its caste block support which it is aiming to target is almost similar to NDA.

Expected caste / religion vote blocks in 2019

Graph 2


2. Ability of BJP to make gains in West Bengal & Odisha, convert increased votes share into seats

The prime minister and BJP president Amit Shah have spent a lot of time in Bengal and Odisha hoping to make significant inroads and compensate for expected losses in the Hindi heartland. BJP had won only 3 out of 63 seats in 2014. In-fact Bengal and Odisha feature in the top 5 states in terms of rallies / roadshows of the Top 2 of BJP as per an Economic Times report. Naveen Patnaik is battling 19 years of anti-incumbency while Mamata is fighting to save her fort.

All is not well and she looks nervous. She fears a collapse of the Left and Congress could help BJP put up a good performance in the state. Any big losses for TMC will dash the hopes of Mamata of becoming the Prime Minister in a hung Parliament situation.

An analysis by the author shows if 50% of Left and Congress votes are transferred to BJP, then party can win 10-12 seats in the state. In Odisha, BJP hopes popularity of Modi in the wake of surgical strikes and differential voting this time will help it win 14-15 seats. The vote shares will definitely increase for BJP, the question is can it convert it into seats.

3. Ability of Congress to maintain its momentum in Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh

Congress had lent a blow to BJP in three of its stronghold states late last year just 3 months before the national elections. Congress defeated BJP’s 15-year-old governments in MP and Chhattisgarh and benefitted from a favorable trend of government change every five years in Rajasthan. BJP had swept these states bagging 62 out of 65 seats in 2014.

On the basis of assembly election results, BJP is leading in 31 and Congress in 34 seats (simple mapping of vidhan sabha results to Lok Sabha results). The challenge for Congress is to keep up the momentum. It had promised farm loan waivers, higher MSP for paddy and unemployment allowance.

It has announced these steps, however, short span of time for implementation and MCC kicking in has meant, a lot of farmers loans have not yet been waived off. This has brought in some discontent among targeted beneficiaries. Furthermore, the issues on which it won are no longer relevant to enable it to win again.

Graph 3


4. Ability of AIADMK to ward off a sweep by DMK as anticipated in TN

BJP has roped in AIADMK into NDA fold. NDA had won 2 out of 39 seats in 2014. AIADMK which was not part of the alliance had won 37 seats and DMK nil. This is the first election in decades when both AIADMK and DMK are contesting without their supremos Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi at the helm.

The entry of Kamal Hassan and AIADMK faction TTK Dinakaran has made the contest quadrangular. DMK has once again tied up with Congress. As per trend, DMK led alliance is expected to win maximum seats in Tamil Nadu.

However, NDA hopes to prevent a whitewash and win few seats which would add to its kitty as AIADMK was not a partner in 2014. Any resistance here by AIADMK, 10-15 seats, will be a bonus for NDA and partly compensate for losses in other states.

5. Ability of Congress to pin down BJP in Gujarat and Maharashtra

The UPA and NDA are in direct contest in western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. NDA had swept these states winning 68 out of 74 seats in 2014. But a spirited performance by Congress in state elections in 2017, where it contained BJP to below 100, entry of Hardik Patel and anti-incumbency is expected to prevent a repeat (26-0) of 2014.

In Maharashtra rural / farm distress, unemployment and anti-incumbency against Fadnavis government gives hope to NCP-Congress alliance. To help matters, nationalism / terrorism / airstrikes is not a big issue here. However, the entry of Prakash Ambedkar’s group is expected to damage the UPA prospects in few seats.

To sum up, these five factors and dynamics in these eleven states is likely to shape up the results of 2019. Stay tuned...