Analysis: Highest ever national vote share for the BJP

As of 1.30 p.m., the Bharatiya Janata Party had garnered 38.5% of the votes counted in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The NDA as a whole, managed to garner close to 45% of the vote. This is the highest vote share received by the party nation-wide in any Lok Sabha election since the party was (re)formed in 1980.

Here’s a quick look at the vote shares of the party since the 1984 elections. In previous elections, the party’s earlier avatar, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh had contested elections either separately or merged within the Janata Party (in 1977 and 1980).

Year BJP’s vote share
2019 38.47
2014 31.34
2009 18.8
2004 22.16
1999 23.75
1998 25.59
1996 20.29
1991 20.24
1989 11.36
1984 7.74

The BJP led coalition (with the Shiv Sena, the Janata Dal (United), the Shiromani Akali Dal, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam among others) won a cumulative vote share of nearly 45%, which is higher what the NDA got in 2014 – 38%.

In contrast, the Congress party has managed only a marginal improvement in its vote share from 2014 – by around 2.6 percentage points to gather 22.07% of the counted votes so far.

Year Congress’ vote share
2019 22.07
2014 19.5
2004 26.7
1999 28.3
1998 26.14
1996 28.8
1991 35.66
1989 39.53
1984 48.12
1980 42.69
1977 40.98
1971 43.68
1967 40.78
1962 44.72
1957 47.78
1951 44.99

The BJP and its allies have thus far not only increased their respective vote shares and seat shares from 2014, but also expanded their geographic reach in electoral success. Only the southern States, such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, have bucked the trend.

The dominant victory of the BJP and its allies — by repeating the 2014 win, and then some — suggests that the era of coalitions (and/or a central government with a relatively weak national party in power) determining the balance of power at Delhi has decisively come to an end. This period, which began in 1977 following the end of Emergency, extended till 2014 with the notable exception of the Congress rule (with PM Rajiv Gandhi at the helm) between 1984 and 1989.

We could now characterise the period when the BJP came to power in 2014 as the beginning of a new single party hegemonic system in Indian politics, that was akin to what prevailed since Independence during the days of the “Congress system”. The 2019 Lok Sabha election trends so far has clearly affirmed this.


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