If we analyse successive Indian general elections by party vote shares, it becomes clear how impossible it is for any party to get over 50% votes as well as how crucial it is for parties to plan their battle smartly, because a vote share of just over 20% for a party can produce a PM. ET drills down the data of more than seven decades of national elections.
1 No party, not even Congress under Jawaharlal Nehru, has won 50% vote share in any national elections, beginning 1951.
2 For 42 years and 8 general elections, till 1984, the party that won, Congress, had more than 40% of national vote share.
3 Vote share of the winning party/combine fell below 40%for the fi rst time in 1989, when the National Front won.
4 Vote share of the party that led the government was above 30% till 1991, when Congress led the govt. Vote share of the main winning party fell below 30% in 1996, when BJP fi rst and briefl y came to power. All winners from then till 2009, formed govts with less than 30% vote share.
5 It took 23 years, 1991 to 2014, for the party that led the government, BJP, to cross 30% vote share.
1 The biggest Congress victory, 48% vote share in 1984, was under Rajiv Gandhi, not his granddad Nehru or his mother, Indira Gandhi.
2 To see Congress’s relative decline as a national political behemoth, note that its vote share fell below 40% for the fi rst time in 1989, the election right after the one that got its highest vote share ever. Its vote share fell below 30% for the fi rst time in 1996. And there it stayed till 2009, even when it ran two govts in 2004 & 2009.
3 Congress vote share fell below 20% for the fi rst time in 2014.
1 BJP’s beginnings were of course utterly humble. It crossed 10% vote share for the fi rst time in 1989.
2 It crossed 20% vote share for the fi rst time in 1991, and kept it there till 2004, whether it was in government or Opposition.
3 But it slumped to below 20% again in ’09, when Congress-led UPA beat BJP-led NDA handsomely.
4 However, 5 years later, its national vote share jumped above 30%, the fi rst party to do so since 1991.
Conclusion: If any party or pre-poll combine crosses 30% national vote share in 2019, it would mark a signifi cant achievement.
( Originally published on Jan 28, 2019 )