Delhi — India’s only city-state, will elect a new legislature in February. It is a firm citadel of Aam Admi Party (AAP), led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The party won 67 out of 70 seats, and 54 per cent of the popular vote, in 2015.
Electoral forecasting is skewed in Delhi, because its residents vote very differently in provincial and national elections.
In both 2014 and 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept all seven Lok Sabha seats with commendable margins. To compound predictive issues, both the 2013 and 2015 assembly elections were tri-partite affairs, with the Congress party progressively losing a substantial portion of its traditional vote base to the AAP.
As a result, the BJP held on to its assembly vote share, but won only three seats in 2015; and, in most cases, AAP victory margins shot up to over 20 per cent.
Under such circumstances, trying to figure out which set of votes might move which way, where, and to whom, becomes a guessing game — exciting for psephology geeks, but imprecise.
Consequently, it makes more sense to study the impact of a vote swing away from AAP, because it is the dominant party both in terms of vote shares and victory margins. Such an approach also aids in testing the validity of a recent opinion poll by ABP News for Delhi.
Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party will not have an alliance with any party, including the Congress, for the February 8 Assembly elections, a party leader said on Thursday.
Speaking to IANS, the leader, who did not want to be identified, said the AAP is confident that it will come back to power on its own, and dismissed all talks of any tie-up.
“We are not going for an alliance with any party in the Assembly elections. We are winning the elections on our own and all the speculations of going with any other political party are incorrect,” the leader said.
The AAP was formed in 2012 and the Arvind Kejriwal-headed party overthrew the 15-year rule of the Congress, led by three-time Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, in 2013.
In the 2013 Assembly elections, the Congress had secured a vote share of 24.55 per cent, the BJP had secured 33.07 per cent vote share and the AAP had secured 29.49 per cent.
As the BJP, the single-largest party, had bagged 31 seats, five seats less than the required majority in the 70-member house, the AAP and the Congress, with 28 and eight seats, subsequently joined the hands to form a government but it only lasted 49 days.
In the 2015 Assembly polls, the AAP bagged 67 out of 70 seats with its vote share jumping up to 54.34 per cent. The BJP’s vote share was 32.19 per cent, while that of Congress had shrunk to 9.65 per cent. The BJP managed to get three seats and became the opposition, while the Congress was left with no seats.
After the two elections, the city witnessed the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. While before the general elections, the AAP had been saying that it will not have any alliance with the Congress, speculations had persisted about a possible electoral alliance between the two.
During the general elections, Kejriwal had said the Congress had “almost said no” for an alliance, while accepting that his party was desperate for an alliance “to save the nation”.
The first step then, is to tabulate the 2015 results seat-wise, and conduct sensitivity runs on possible changes in AAP victory margins due to negative vote swings away. By this approach, the principal question, of who the beneficiary of that vote swing might be, is taken out of the equation. This is also, indirectly, an indicator of just how large the 2015 mandate was for the AAP.
Four runs were made on AAP victory margins, to simulate AAP results, at different magnitudes of vote swings away from the AAP.
The outcomes are interesting:
Interestingly, what this analysis also indicates, is that the projections remain the same, irrespective of whether AAP votes shift to the BJP, or the Congress, or both.
However, a clear inflexion point is seen: beyond a 15 per cent negative vote swing, the AAP starts to lose seats more materially. And yet, even at this stage, because of the first-past-the-post system, the AAP could, technically, still manage a higher seat tally if the vote-shift away goes more to the Congress than to the BJP.
But will that happen? The recent ABP News opinion poll doesn’t think so.
According to its poll, the AAP largely holds on to its 2015 vote share but gets eight seats less than the last elections. The Congress continues to bleed votes, coming down to a stunning 5 per cent, and the BJP too, is shown to lose 7 per cent of the vote share from 2015.
This doesn’t make sense numerically or electorally, because the poll forecasts vote shifting from the BJP and Congress to ‘Others’.
At the same time, both the BJP and Congress’ seats go up, while the AAP’s seat tally comes down. It might have made some sense if the 16 per cent ‘Others’ component was classified as the undecided vote, but to assign 16 per cent to ‘Others’, when past state results give only 3 per cent to ‘Others’, appears to be a glaring incongruity. In addition, at no place has the poll specified who these popular, phantom ‘Others’ are.
How can the BJP’s seat tally go up from three to eight when it loses 7 per cent of its vote share to Others (meaning that the AAP victory margins not only remain intact, but actually improve)? How can the Congress improve from zero to three when its vote share falls by half to 5 per cent? And why would the AAP lose eight seats when the poll predicts that its vote share will remain essentially undisturbed?
Obviously, one interpretation is that the poll perhaps represents an electorate in flux; a citizenry still in the process of making up its mind.
Consequently, one may conclude only with a qualitative assessment:
Unless the AAP loses over 15 per cent of its vote share, and most of that to the BJP, Kejriwal looks set to return for another term as Chief Minister.
In which case, making BJP the capital’s bogeyman won’t make the Congress Delhi’s favourite — not by a long shot.
Ergo, the ongoing, orchestrated protests, sit-ins and vandalism will not benefit the non-BJP, non-AAP forces electorally. Their efforts are wasted. Meaning, it’s time the ‘freedom brigades’ went home, and time for normal, civilised electoral service to resume.