Month: February 2015

When 30 isn’t enough

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The stunning results from the Delhi elections have left pollsters and political parties scrambling for answers.

The BJP camp must be perplexed. After all, the party largely managed to retain its vote share when compared to the 2013 elections.

In addition, this is similar to the vote share the party received in the 2014 LS elections and the subsequent assembly elections.

Year of Delhi elections BJP Vote Share (%)
1998 34.02


2008 36.34
2013 33.07
2015 32.2


Recent Elections BJP Vote Share (%)
2014 LS 31
Jharkhand 2014 31.3
Maharashtra 2014 27.8
Haryana 2014 33.2

The big lesson for the BJP is that 30% isn’t enough if voter preferences consolidate.

 As the Congress vote share sinks in many states, its erstwhile vote bank is looking for credible alternatives. Unfortunately for the BJP, it has not yet managed to shape its social and economic image enough to appeal to these voters.

This is both good news and bad news for all parties involved. The Congress desperately needs to get its house in order, but there is clearly a large space for pro-poor, secular politics.

The BJP has a large vote share to capitalize on if it can appeal to it. Yes, polarization works in increasing vote share (as evidenced in Karnataka and U.P). But this polarization may have limited fruits in a hungry, new India

For AAP and other parties, it would appear that voter consolidation is happening at a radical pace. Parties and leaders with a positive mandate and promises have a ready audience. But as the BJP and Modi have fast discovered, this is also an impatient, punishing, new India.


Why the phantom voter matters?

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As exit polls and political analysts take center stage, an undiscussed entity that may determine Delhi’s next government: The Phantom Voter.

A recent study by Janagraaha found that 1 in 4 persons registered on the Delhi voters list needed deletion. The Delhi Election Commission survey last year found 15 lakh non-existent voters in Delhi. In a closely fought election like the current one, these phantom voters could make a crucial difference in determining the results.

In an attempt to clean the electoral rolls, the Janagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy carried out the Proper Urban Electoral (PURE) exercise to verify the accuracy of voters list. The exercise started with Bangalore constituencies and has recently been extended to Delhi.

Chart 1 looks at the number of voters to be deleted in 8 constituencies in Delhi as determined by the Janaagraha PURE survey. Chart 2 looks at the margin of victories in these constituencies in the 2013 assembly elections.

All data is taken from Janagraaha’s PURE list and the Election Commission of India.

Deleted Voters-page-001Victory Margin-page-001

This phenomenon is not unique to Delhi. In the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, more than 500,000 voters were registered in Bangalore. Compare this to the numbers from 2008 to 2013, just 80, 683.

In Varanasi, the UP State Election Commission found that more than 300,000 names were repeated (i.e, present more than once). The Commission is currently weeding out genuine name overlaps with repeated voters.

In a closely fought election, where a few hundred votes could make the difference, these phantom voters could decide victory and defeat. Delhi’s fate may lie with them.