Gujarat 2022 Assembly Election: What if there was a BJP vs “INC+AAP” contest?
The results of the recently concluded Gujarat 2022 assembly election were described by multiple media houses (1 2)as Tsu”Namo”. BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) in a massive landslide won a staggering 156/185 seats (i.e., won >85% of all seats in the Gujarat assembly).
INC (Indian National Congress) did very well in 2017, especially in rural areas meant there was a sea of blue in the 2017 map (especially in Saurashtra). BJP has reversed many of those INC gains in this election.
Venu Gopal Narayanan (@ideorogue) in his latest piece has provided this excellent GIS map of all the constituency names plus the winning party. The 2022 map shows a sea of saffron (BJP) all across the state (barring a few seats in North Gujarat)
VOTE SHARE & SEATS:
INC record of 149 seats in the 1985 election was broken by BJP this time around with 156 seats. Even after 27 years of anti-incumbency, it is commendable that BJP was able to further increase its vote share from 49.1% to 52.5%. AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) by capturing 12.9% of the vote was able to splinter the big anti-BJP vote bloc hurting INC in the process which could only garner 27.3% (vs ~38-41% in the previous 4 elections: 2002/2007/2012/2017)
Vote Share Percentile per seat
Once a candidate/party crosses 50% of the vote it is mathematically impossible for anyone else to defeat him/her: i.e. No amount of consolidation of the vote via a “Mahagathbandhan” or any type of alliance can defeat this. The BJP won 102/182 seats with 50+% of the vote. On these 102 seats even if all the opposition votes would have combined (in theory) they would have still fallen short of defeating the BJP candidate. BJP in 11 seats won an astounding 70-80% of the overall vote % and in 3 seats went above mind boggling 80%.
What if there was a BJP vs “INC+AAP” contest?
We know that in politics there is never a complete vote transference between 2 parties if contest in an alliance (see BSP/SP example from UP), but still, it is fascinating to play the “What If” question for purpose of curiosity. While there is no doubt that AAP did dent the INC’s chances by splitting the traditional anti BJP vote bank, even if they were able to pool their votes together BJP would have still won 123 seats which would give it a comfortable 2/3 majority.
BJP won 50 seats by a comfortable 20% margin and 80 seats with a thumping 30+% margin. On the extreme hand BJP did win 3 seats [Ghatlodia/Ellisbridge/Majura] with an astonishing 70+% margin. The runner up candidates in these 3 seats got just 8-10% of the overall vote.
The BJP’s performance was so overwhelming that they did not even finish in 3rd position or worse anywhere across Gujarat. AAP finishing runner-up on 35 seats will now be concerning to INC supporters as they are being displaced as the “primary challenger/opposition” in certain seats.
AAP for all the noise they made during the campaign still managed to lose their deposits in 126 (i.e., > 2 out of every 3 seats). BJP’s domination was so complete that on 16 seats in Gujarat every single candidate (other than the BJP) lost their deposits!
Seats Won (by Category)
BJP swept all categories including ST seats which were once the stronghold of the INC.
2017 election saw BJP suffer a setback in Saurashtra where INC managed to win 30 seats (vs just 23 for BJP). This time BJP was able to make amends and sweep Saurashtra with 46 seats. Even the South Gujarat region which was once regarded as a stronghold of INC (excluding the Surat city areas) has now gone for BJP further denting the INC seat tally. Only in North Gujarat where INC managed to get 37% vote share were they able to do relatively better than other regions. AAP by making inroads in both South Gujarat and Saurashtra by getting ~18+% of the vote share absolutely decimated the INC hopes and handed BJP 79/89 seats (~88% of all seats in these 2 regions)
Whichever way you want to “slice and dice” the data from the 2022 Gujarat elections, BJP has achieved a historic and unprecedented win. INC has to regroup itself after this drubbing and formulate a better and more coherent strategy. The national wing of the party had pretty much abandoned the local leadership and left them to win by itself which is a tall task given the formidable election machinery of the BJP.
Now the INC has to not only take on the BJP but now also contend with another challenger in the AAP. AAP while winning in seats due to the presence of local strongmen now will have to prove itself going forward about winning in other seats. They must work hard to expand their footprint just beyond pockets of Saurashtra and South Gujarat to become a credible opposition in the eyes of the electorate across the state.
If they disappear like INC for the next 4.5 years and only start to register their presence in the last 6 months before the election campaign it will not amount to much. For BJP the margin of this landslide will be very hard to recreate during the next election cycle. While a part of the reason for the continuous string of victories in Gujarat was due to the ineptitude of the Gujarat INC leadership, they now have a different challenger in the AAP.
Only time will tell if the whole “anti-BJP” space is subsumed in the AAP vote share or if AAP is just a flash in the pan in Gujarat politics. AAP has to cultivate strong local leadership to keep BJP local government honest for the next 5 years to make its mark in Gujarat. BJP for its stupendous victory cannot get complacent and rest on its laurels and will have to work hard to maintain the faith of the electorate come 2027.
Author: Mohal Joshi
Note I would like to that Vivek Madani (@vivekpm) for helping to pull the data for all constituencies individually from the ECI website.