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Congress-Free India? Not Any Time Soon

Devanik Saha,
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With the 35-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dominating electoral politics in 2014 and the seats held by the 130-year-old Congress being at new lows, it is hard not to feel that the Congress has been decimated, and that BJP president Amit Shah’s vision of a “Congress-Mukt Bharat”, or a Congress-free India, is at hand.


The data do not support that contention.


The Congress may have lost power, but the party retains strong voter loyalties. The BJP’s popularity has soared mainly at the expense of other parties.


This conundrum is explained by India’s first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system, which means that the candidate getting the maximum votes wins the election. A handful of voters can change outcomes, if they can be convinced into switching allegiances, even at the last minute.




In the 2013 elections in Rajasthan, Congress, despite being reduced to 21 seats, had a vote share of 33.7% compared to 96 seats in 2008 and a vote share of 36.8%.




In Madhya Pradesh, although it won only 58 seats, 13 less than in 2008, the Congress vote share increased by 4.7%. The data also reveal that BJP actually made inroads in the vote share of other parties, evidenced by the fact that vote share of “others” has reduced significantly.




In Delhi, Congress vote share has always hovered over the 40% mark. However, it dipped to 24.7% in 2013. The drop in vote share can be attributed to the rise of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which gained prominence in 2013.




In Jammu & Kashmir, Congress’s vote share increased from 17.8% in 2008 to 18% in 2014. BJP, which secured its highest vote share of 23%, grabbed votes from other parties.




In Maharashtra, too, the Congress was reduced to its lowest tally of seats in 2014, but its vote-share dipped marginally, by 2.9%. Again, BJP’s major inroads were into the votes of other parties.




The only exception is Haryana, where Congress’s vote-share and seats fell drastically.


All data taken from the Election Commission website.


(Devanik Saha is Data Editor at The Political Indian.)



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  1. Anil Maheshwari Reply

    January 6, 2015 at 5:10 am

    In India, we have the electoral system “first past the post” not proportional representation. Way back after the grand success of Mrs. Indira Gandhi by defeating the “Grand alliance” in 1971. Minoo Masani, a freedom fighter and a stalwart of the Swatantra Party, a partner in the anti-Congress alliance, wrote an article in two parts in The Statesman in March 1971. He wrote that if four persons were on the electoral rolls, only two used their franchise (About 50 per cent polling); out of those two one voted for the alliance and one voted for Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s Congress(I) but the seats netted by Mrs. Gandhi were about double of the seats won by the alliance. Under such circumstances, the exercise, done by the author in this post, remains merely an academic one, devoid of the ground realities.

  2. Pappu Italvi Reply

    January 6, 2015 at 5:21 am

    Political parties will change their electoral strategy according to the kind of election they are fighting. If the election was fought on “first past the post” BJP or Modi will try to devise a strategy which will help them to gain maximum advantage in that system.

    If the election was on proportional voting system they would have fine tuned their strategy and messaging accordingly.

    It is foolish to compare an election fought under one system and then compare the result with an alternate system by superimposing the voting percentage into another system.

    Even when Congress & Rajiv Gandhi manufactured a wave in 1984 showing his mothers dead body then also congress got only 48% vote with 414 seats.

    How ever secular-frauds try to belittle Modi & BJP’s victory the truth is that none of the secular parties could get even half of 32% of votes with which they could have defeated BJP in proportional voting system.

  3. Sandeep Reply

    January 6, 2015 at 5:43 am

    ‘congress-free-india’ means trying to put Congress out of power in as many states and as many times as possible not by asking everyone to not vote for it. In a country of people with diff. opinions, there will be a bunch a idiots who would vote for congress anytime. Difficult to change their mindsets!

  4. sktp Reply

    January 6, 2015 at 5:55 am

    Elections are fought on money and power is sustained with patronage. If Congress is no longer in power, it will have neither money nor patronage. It will wither away quickly — BJP just has to make sure Cong keeps losing elections, and there will be mass desertions. Anyway, Cong is held together by Sonia Gandhi and will disband once she kicks the bucket. Her children are useless.

  5. Nileshwar Reply

    January 6, 2015 at 7:54 am

    Don’t worry, you keep shouting about the vote share of congress to prove that India will never be Cong-mukth. Within the next few months, you will see the entire dynasty opting out of politics, and AAP grabing the congress with a merger or reverse merger.

  6. Aseem Reply

    January 6, 2015 at 10:50 am

    This is an interesting analysis that I do put forward in a lot of discussions. FPTP exaggerates the relatively small vote swings into often huge difference in seats. No wonder wild swings in results are often so baffling. Another fall-out is misunderstanding of opinion/exit polls, which really represent vote share predictions. Seat-share is more of a statistics-enabled guesswork, especially in tight contests.

    However, another aspect needs to be looked at. We need to understand what are the basic drivers for Congress votes. Most of the political parties originate in grassroots movements with power and authority flowing upwards – AAP provides a recent exhibit. However, in the humdrum of electoral politics they either wither away (whither MNS) or share in power and invert to a top down structure for both power and authority (BJP already in Gujarat, maybe nationally soon). This is what a management student will call a mature phase of the political party. At this stage, all party machinery, right to the ground worker bank on access to power as the most efficient option to galvanize support. As such, party needs access to power like vine devotes itself to host tree, with often most of the associated perversions. Given the division of administrative roles, state governments, and some larger Municipal Corporations, are the bulwark for these structures. This also explains how states have been locus for political mobilization with all strong state-based parties developing their own influence network – local goons for Samajwadi party, Unions for Left and Shiv Sena, Contractors for YSR Congress. With 65 years on domination on power, Congress can be seen much more clearly as sum of these influence networks.

    Let’s be careful not to put the cart before the horse. While it is true that Congress vote share is better than respectable and plausible swing can bring it back to power, the logic here predominantly works the other way round. As it loses state by state, along with dwindling hope, the lifeblood for this support is being sapped. All opponents of Congress have openly shown awareness of this emerging dynamic. Obviously, no one can rule out surprises, yet vote share might be lagging indicator. As, people see lesser returns to supplication to local-level Congress leaders, vote share may follow the plummeting seat share which, despite all its flaws in representing opinion, is the access to power.

  7. Vikram Reply

    January 6, 2015 at 11:58 am

    Congress won in 2004 and 2009 mostly because of Andhra Pradesh which gifted Congress power.But now that state is divided and Congress got 0 MLA seats and 0 MP seats in Andhra.2 MP seats in Telangana.So Congress is only left in Karnataka and Kerala.Rest of India Congress not going to win with Pappu in charge and with the kind of Scams Congress had done and now that knwe everything Difficult for Congress with its Anti Hindu and Anti India image.

  8. Ash Reply

    January 6, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Well it just shows that “Some people can be fooled all the time” and refuse to learn.

    People who vote for congress are govt-dependent and fearful. More people move out of poverty, more they will not be govt-dependent and not vote for congress. Fearful will always find someone to vote for who can protect them…it cant be helped…Hence economic development should reach lowest of lowest to actually see congress-mukt-Bharat…


    January 8, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    It is not a surprising matter that Congress is a party who,s roots are deep in all parts of India. But why Party not gaining ruleing majority in the States and at the Center, just because of Congress Leadership. Specially Leaders who has no ground to fight MLA/MP election are still advisor to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Rahul Gandhi. Some steps are being taken by Party, specially revival of BHARAT SEVAK SAMAJ Formed by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. But what about the frontal Organization like Sewa Dal, Youth Congress and Mahila Congress.

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