Split in oppn vote helping Congress


 If one considers the bigger states, while WB elected Left parties and Gujarat repeated the BJP for more than three terms, Delhi and Orissa are witnessing the third straight governments of the Congress and the BJD, respectively. With the Congress-NCP regaining power, the coalition is now set to rule Maharashtra for the third time in a row.

This trend in states repeating ruling parties/coalition is the opposite of anti-incumbency. Maharashtra bucked anti-incumbency, although the Congress-NCP has to thank a divided Opposition, mainly the MNS of Raj Thackeray.

This is unlike the story of the other four states — WB, Gujarat, Orissa and Delhi — where the ruling parties/fronts were facing not only a weak but also largely a single party opposition.  While this is the story since 1987, which is also when the coalition-era began to shape national politics as well as in the states, an analysis of state elections since 2004 shows that nine governments in big states have retained power.

Interestingly, a similar number of party governments lost power too. Also interesting is the fact that for the first time since the state was formed in 1966, Haryana has returned to power the same party (Congress).

The Haryana electorate has never allowed the ruling party to win a repeat mandate, a la Kerala. With the latest round of Assembly elections, the Congress and its allies are in power in 14 states and UTs, the BJP and its allies rule nine while others control the remaining seven.

In both Maharashtra and Haryana, which also went to the polls, the Congress could retain power because of a divided Opposition. In Maharashtra, the Congress-NCP combine has secured 37.38% of votes (Congress 21.01% and NCP 16.37%)while the BJP-Shiv Sena combine has polled 30.28% (BJP 14.02%, SS 16.26%);  the MNS has got 5.7% while “Others” have secured around 22%.

All of this clearly indicate that the ruling coalition was helped by division of votes among opposition parties. 

An analysis of these figures shows that the MNS has eaten into both SS and NCP votes as the vote share of the last two parties has come down by 2.4% and 3.7% while that of the Congress and the BJP has remained almost in tact.

The story is the same in Haryana. The Congress has secured 35.08% of votes against 25.79% of the Indian National Lok Dal, 9.04% of the BJP, 7.4% of the Haryana Janhit Party and 6.7% of the BSP.

However, in Haryana, the Congress base has drastically eroded as it has lost 7.4% of the votes compared to the last Assembly elections and 27 Assembly segments since the May, 2009 LS polls. The INLD vote share has slightly improved, while the BJP has lost about 1% votes. The biggest loser is the BSP as its leader Mayawati could not repeat the impressive performance of May — the party slumped from 16.7% to 6.7%!

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