The scope of the article is to analyse the recent polls in Haryana, with a particular emphasis on the performance of the BJP in the state. In particular, we shall examine where the BJP vote came from, how it performed in comparison to the Lok Sabha elections, and what the lessons for the BJP are.
The BJP has just performed very well in Haryana and has seized power in a state where it had never even been the principal opposition. It has won 33.3% of the total vote, and 47 seats as opposed to the principal rivals, the Congress, which has won only 20.6% of the vote and 15 seats, and the INLD-SAD combine, which has won 24.8% of the vote and 20 seats. This is a huge change from 2009, when the Congress won 35.43% of the vote, the BJP won 9.44% of the vote and the INLD won 26.23% of the vote.
Before we go into an analysis of the performance of the different parties, it is interesting to see the number of votes that have been cast in 2014, and compare it against the number of votes cast in 2009. In 2009, there was a voting of 72.3% with 94,79, 644 votes, whereas, in 2014, there was a voting of 78.5% with 1,24,26,968 votes cast. Basically, the number of votes cast increased by 31.09%, which is a phenomenal change. Given the huge increase in votes, let us see how the changes have occurred in the number of votes accruing to the different parties.
Taking a look at the above figure, we see that the Congress vote came down from 33.58 lakh votes in 2009 to 25.59 lakh votes in 2014 in an election where the number of votes rose by 31% compared to the previous election. Roughly, the Congress vote has fallen by about a quarter. This is a huge beating that the Congress has taken. The BJP, in contrast, benefited enormously. The BJP had polled a measly 8.94 lakh votes in Haryana in 2009. In 2014, its vote rose to 41.32 lakhs, more than quadrupling. This phenomenal rise in vote has been unparalleled in history of Haryana. The only one that comes close is the rise of the BJP vote in Karnataka in the aftermath of the Ram wave in 1991. The INLD vote also rose from 24.86 lakhs to 30.77 lakhs, rising by about 25%. Given that the number of votes rose by 31%, they seem to have lost a small proportion. However, it must be borne in mind that the INLD voters tend to be the more committed lot, leaving few votes in the reserves. The rise in the vote share is likely to hurt them, particularly if there exists a good alternative to the Congress in Haryana. Consequently, the INLD can be thought of as having maintained its voters.
The BJP’s phenomenal rise leaves us with a good question. Whose vote did the BJP take? Judging by the fact that the Congress lost about 8 lakh votes, we can assume that the BJP took a good chunk of the Congress vote. The vote of the others in 2009 was 27.4 lakhs, and the vote of the others in 2014 was 26.58 lakhs. The BJP may be thought to have netted about a lakh or so of the other parties’ votes. The main bonus for the BJP seems to have come from the new voters, who have given it most of its vote. In fact, the higher voting in Haryana has benefited the BJP enormously, which goes to show the importance of getting its vote out for the BJP. For this purpose, a dedicated cadre is vital, and the BJP lives and dies by its cadre. Without the cadre, there will be far fewer votes for the BJP.
In terms of the vote share, the Congress lost 14.8% of the vote, coming down from 35.43% to 20.59%. The INLD also lost marginally from 26.23% to 24.76%, a drop of 1.5%. The BJP, on the other hand, rose from 9.44% to 33.3%, a huge gain of 23.9%. This vote rise is unprecedented in the history of Haryana. Among the others, both the HJC and the BSP lost vote share. The HJC lost vote share from 7.32% to 4.22%, a drop of 3.1%. The BSP came down from 6.79% to 4.37%, a drop of 2.42%. The loss of both seems to have been the gain of the BJP.
It is interesting to see how the various parties have done in the different regions of the state. Haryana has four major regions. The northern region, the Ahirwal, the southern region, and the Jat belt.
Out of the 27 seats in this region, the BJP won 22 seats. This phenomenal performance in the north is what has propelled the BJP to a victory. This region comprises of the districts of Panchkula, Ambala, Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Karnal, and Panipat districts. The BJP has put up a spectacular performance in this region. The BJP won both the seats in Panchkula, all the four seats in Ambala district, all the four seats in Yamunanagar, all five seats in Karnal district, three of the four seats in Kurukshetra, and three out of the four seats in Panipat district. It was only in Kaithal (which shares some characteristics of the Jat belt, and also some Punjabi characteristics) that the BJP performed badly, winning only one of the four seats. The BJP’s superlative performance here has simply blown away all the competition. In contrast, the Congress and the INLD have won only 1 seats apiece. Three seats have been won by independents. In 2009, the INLD had won 14 of the 27 seats, and the Congress had won 8. The BJP had won 1, the BSP 1, and independents 3.
In terms of vote share, the BJP won 37.97% in the Northern region, and it is well above 40% if one counts out the district of Kaithal. In the northern region adjoining the Yamuna (the west bank of the Yamuna), the BJP has swept the polls. In fact, a historical analogy would be that this is a reverse Panipat, with the BJP invading the region from the east and the north. That the BJP has made such huge inroads among the Punjabis augurs well for the BJP, particularly if it chooses to go it alone in Punjab in 2017. In contrast, the BJP vote share was 11.28% in 2009. The BJP has more than tripled its vote share in the northern region, and this region is going to be the bedrock of the BJP with its choice of CM – Manohar Lal Khattar. In all this, there is one small source of worry for the BJP. In the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP vote was ~45%. Now, it has dropped by about 8%. In one sense, this was to be expected, because the BJP was in alliance with the HJC (which has about 5% of the vote in the region), and the people were voting for Modi as PM. Nevertheless, it should be borne in mind.
The Congress came down from its high of 31.94% in 2009 to 18.71% in 2014. Roughly, except for Kaithal district, where the Congress still retains its vote share, the Congress vote share was halved. The INLD, on the other hand, dropped its vote share from 25.76% to 21.16%.
This region comprises of the districts of Mahendragarh, Rewari and Gurgaon in Haryana. Out of the 11 seats in the region, the BJP has won all the 11. The BJP won all the 4 seats in Gurgaon, all the 4 seats in Mahendragarh, and all the three 3 in Rewari district. Again the BJP’s superlative performance in Ahirwal has blown all competition away. Obviously, the other parties have drawn a blank. In 2009, the Congress had won 7 seats, the INLD 2, the HJC 1, and an independent 1. Now, all non-BJP parties have been wiped out in the region.
In terms of vote share, the BJP has performed superbly, once more, winning 47.2% of the vote. In 2009, the BJP had 12.83% of the vote here. That the BJP has quadrupled its vote is nothing short of superlative. I fervently hope that the BJP richly rewards this region, which has reposed its faith in the BJP. The Congress, in contrast, has fallen from 30.28% to 11.81%, which is roughly a third of the vote percentage it got in 2009. The bulk of the Congress vote seems to have migrated to the BJP, which is now seen as the new champion of the non-Jats. The BJP should shore up this vote bank with good administration and careful policies.
This region comprises of the districts of Mewat, Palwal and Faridabad. There are 12 seats in the region, and out of the twelve, the BJP won only 3 seats. The BJP was expected to do badly in Mewat (which is Muslim dominated), but surprisingly, has performed less well than expected even in the three seats of Palwal district, losing in all three. However, the BJP did well, winning three of the six seats of Faridabad district. However, it might do the party some good to introspect on its poor performance in Palwal district, and even slightly less creditable (compared to Ahirwal and North Haryana) performance in Faridabad. The INLD has won 4 of the 12 seats, the Congress 3, and the BSP has won 1 seat. Another seat has been won by an independent. In 2009, the Congress had won 5 seats, the INLD 4, the BJP had won 1 seat, and independents had won 2 seats.
In terms of vote percentages, the BJP won 32.48% of the vote. If one removes the Muslim majority Mewat district, then the BJP vote share improves to 37.04%. However, its conversion of vote share to seats was bad in this region, principally because it was faced against a bunch of Congress and INLD heavyweights. Nevertheless, the BJP should reflect on this failure, because it could portend ill for the party. In 2009, the BJP had won 13.01% of the vote in South Haryana (14.35% without Mewat district). The BJP more than doubled its vote percentage, but the improvement has been less marked than in other regions. Further, unlike other regions, the BSP retains considerable influence in South Haryana still, winning 10.02% of the vote. The Congress, on the other hand, fell from 35.14% in 2009 to 23.07% in 2014 of the vote, while the INLD, which won 21.14% of the vote in 2009, actually rose to 22.39% of the vote.
This region consists of the districts of Sonepat, Rohtak, Jhajjar, Jind, Fatehabad, Sirsa, Hissar, and Bhiwani districts. The region has 40 seats. The BJP has won 11 seats. The BJP won 1 of the 6 seats in Sonepat, 1 of the 4 seats in Rohtak, 2 of the 4 seats in Jhajjar, 1 of the 5 seats in Jind district, 1 of the 3 in Fatehabad, none of the 5 in Sirsa, 2 of the 5 in Hissar, and 3 of the 6 in Bhiwani. This performance leaves quite a bit to be desired, particularly in Hissar, Sirsa and Sonepat districts. In contrast, the Congress has won 11 of the 40 seats, while the INLD has won 14 seats. The HJC has won 3 seats. An independent has won 1 seat. In 2009, the Congress had won 20 seats, the INLD had won 13, the HJC had won 3, the BJP had won 2, and independents had won 2 seats.
In terms of vote shares, the INLD topped the Jat belt winning 28.26%, down from 29.41% in 2009 – a drop of 1.1%. The Congress won 23.86% of the vote in the Jat belt, down from 39.47% in 2009, a drop of 15.61%. Considering that Hooda belongs to this belt, the collapse is all the more stark. In contrast, the BJP won 25.87% of the vote, up from 6.23% of the vote in 2009 – a rise of 19.64% of the vote.
However, the leaders of all the non-BJP parties came from this region – Bhupinder Singh Hooda belongs to Rohtak, the Chauthalas come from Sirsa district, and the Bhajan Lal family comes from Hissar district, so it is unsurprising that their respective parties would do well in their home districts. The Chauthalas won all the 5 seats of the Sirsa district. It is interesting to see that, in Sirsa, at least, the BJP’s alliance with the Dera Sacha Sauda, has not borne fruit – it appears that Chauthala was too strong for them. In Hisar, the HJC won 2 of the 7 seats, while the INLD won 3 seats. In Rohtak, Sonipat and Jhajjar, where the Congress was expected to do very well, the Congress won 5 of the 6 seats in Sonipat, 3 of the 4 in Rohtak, and 2 of the 4 in Jhajjar. This indicates that the influence of the Congress and the INLD, while dented, still remains strong in the home districts of the leaders. On the other hand, in a district like Bhiwani, where Bansi Lal’s legacy is being upheld only by Kiran Chaudhary, the BJP was able to make major inroads, winning 3 of the 6 seats. The conclusion would be that the BJP still has a considerable distance to go in the Jat belt, before it is secure. Further, the BJP needs strong Jat leaders, which it would need to build in the next five years.