Vote split not key factor behind BJP’s win in Gujarat

Vote split not key factor behind BJP’s win in Gujarat

The Congress’s seat tally of 17 assembly constituencies (ACs) out of 182 in the 2022 Gujarat assembly elections is its worst ever performance in the state. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which was looking to at least displace the Congress as the main opposition party in the state, finished a distant third, winning just 5 ACs. On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won the biggest ever victory in a Gujarat assembly election.

Does this mean that AAP’s entry in Gujarat was bound to benefit the BJP?

At the outset, it does look like the AAP and Congress have ended up hurting each other. The number of ACs where these two parties have finished second and third suggests that their votes were split in a large number of ACs. The Congress has finished second in 118 ACs and third in 39, while the AAP has finished second in 35 and third in 114. The number of such ACS – where competing anti-BJP parties finished second and third – is important because it is in these seats where one of them could possibly have emerged a winner if they didn’t cut into each other’s votes.

To be sure, it is not necessary that it was AAP which finished third every time the Congress finished second or vice versa. Of the 118 ACs where the Congress has finished second, AAP was third in 99. Similarly, of the 35 ACs where the AAP has finished second, Congress was third in 31. However, this still adds up to 130 ACs, which is more than the 92 seats required to have a majority in the Gujarat assembly.

Does this mean that with only AAP or Congress competing against the BJP in an AC their combined seat tally would add up to a majority?

Counter-intuitive as it may sound, the answer to that question is no. This can be seen by computing the result of the election after adding up Congress and AAP votes at the AC-level. Then the result should look like the two parties had not split each other’s votes. This analysis shows that the BJP would still win the election. In fact, its seat tally turns out to be 123, just four ACs short of its 2002 tally of 127, its best performance in Gujarat before 2022. The combined Congress-AAP tally, on the other hand, would be just 55. While this is much better than their actual combined tally of 22, the tally of 55 ACs would still be the worst since 2007.

These numbers imply that the AAP’s entry in Gujarat is only one of the reasons for the poor performance of anti-BJP parties in the 2022 assembly election. HT had suggested this in a story published on December 8. The number of ACs which Congress or even BJP lost to spoilers (when parties finishing third have vote share greater than the victory margin) was not the highest historically in this election. Therefore, vote-cutting alone cannot explain the results in Gujarat. It is likely the appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the efficient campaign the BJP ran, helped it more than vote cutting did.

(Courtesy: Hindustan Times)

Images courtesy of (Image: Hindu Businessline) and HT

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