Debating India

BIHAR 2000

An overall swing away from NDA

Friday 31 March 2000


CONSTITUENTS of the NDA formed governments in three of the four States where Assembly elections were held (although in the cases of one of them, Bihar, it was a false dawn), but the results reflect a pronounced downturn in popular support for the NDA as compared to the Lok Sabha elections of 1999.

Overall, the NDA’s vote share fell by 13.7 percentage points in the four States. In the Lok Sabha elections, the constituents had collectively secured 48.5 per cent of the votes in the four States. In the Assembly elections, the corresponding figure is 3 4.8 per cent. The swing in each of the States was against the NDA: it ranged from 6.5 per cent in Manipur to 19.9 per cent in Haryana.

Despite such a serious erosion of their support base, the NDA constituents have been in a position where they have assumed power in two States (and hoped to remain in power in a third) only because their vote share was quite high in the first place.

However, a bigger question remains: if the NDA faces such large-scale reversals in the States where its constituents are believed to be the most popular, what does the future hold for it in States where its entities’ standing is less than firm?

The outcomes of State Assembly elections in the last decade have seemed to have had a logic of their own; it is hard to foresee whether this swing will be repeated in other States. Even so, it seems fair to conclude that the "Vajpayee factor" does not wo rk at the State level. BJP leaders perhaps have reason to be happy that the next round of Assembly elections is at least a year away.

See online : Frontline

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