Grand Coalition vs NDA 2019: Who will win the crown?
Our projection of 2019 Lok Sabha elections in the event of a Grand coalition vs NDA battle
Rahul Gandhi, the Congress party president and the presumptive prime ministerial candidate from the Congress, recently declared that if a grand coalition were to come together for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, then even PM Narendra Modi would lose his seat. These are bold words indeed – equivalent to the declaration of outright war (electoral war) against the NDA. What is the substance behind these words? Is this a hollow statement or/and just an attempt to motivate and galvanise the opposition or is this really likely to happen?
The answer to this question can only be gleaned through deep data analysis – analysis of voting patterns in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Till now, supporters of the grand coalition concept have only talked about one basic data point – that the BJP had just 31.3% vote share in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Ergo, these people say that a notional grand coalition of all major non-NDA parties would easily pip the BJP to the post in the 2019 elections.
But, in reality, coalitions have only had limited success in actual elections. In the last UP assembly elections for example, the SP-Congress combine could not prevent NDA from winning nearly 80% of the seats. On the other hand, a grand coalition did succeed in defeating NDA and winning the last Bihar state assembly elections. So, what would be the fate of a notional anti-NDA grand coalition in 2019?
A superficial analysis of data often throws up false pictures. To get an accurate picture, it is critical to delve deeper into statistics. This is the first rule of statistical analysis – the one rule that any data analysis expert would swear by. In this article, we present our expert team’s projection of the likely results of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in the event of a Grand Coalition vs NDA battle. This projection is based on a deeper analysis of 2014 Lok Sabha election voting patterns, vote shares in more recent state elections, and projections regarding voting patterns in the 2019 elections. As you will see, the results of this analysis are quite interesting and complex.
Our projections are based on three levels of analysis – these three levels were necessary in order to make sense of the complex Indian electoral battleground. We look at three factors in this analysis:
- Voting patterns in 2014 LS elections
- Leakage of votes from Grand Coalition
- Expected change in voting patterns from 2014 to 2019 LS elections
1. First level: Direct analysis of voting patterns in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections
31.3% – the vote share of BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections is one of the most well known figures in debates and discussions about the next Lok Sabha polls. But, this number ignores the fact that the BJP had put up candidates for just 428 out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats. In fact, the NDA as a whole had secured approximately 38.5% votes in these polls. Furthermore, in the 336 seats that the NDA had won (out of 543), their vote share was slightly more than 45% on average.
This does not mean that a grand coalition would automatically secure the remaining 55% of votes on these 336 seats on average. The notional grand coalition being talked about today comprises around 46 parties. But, in the 2014 polls, a total of 8251 candidates, representing 6 national parties, 39 state parties, 419 smaller parties, and independents, had stood for elections. What then would be the likely vote share of non-NDA and non-grand coalition parties and independents in 2019?
In the 2015 Bihar legislative assembly elections, the Mahagathbandhan (grand coalition) had secured 41.9% of votes while NDA had secured 34.1% votes. This means that non-grand coalition and non-NDA parties and independents had secured 24% of votes – grand coalition and NDA had together secured only 76% of votes.
Similarly, in the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections, the BJP secured 49.1% votes while Congress secured 41.4% votes. This means that non-Congress and non-BJP parties and independents secured 9.5% votes.
Looking at the results of these two assembly elections, our experts conclude that non-grand coalition and non-NDA parties and independents are likely to secure between 15% to 20% of votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Hence, if NDA again secures the same 45% of votes on the 336 seats that it won in 2014, then on these 336 seats, the grand coalition can at most hope to secure between 40% to 35% of votes on average.
Note that this assumes that all of the major non-NDA parties would be part of the grand coalition, i.e. this assumes that the 46 party grand coalition indeed comes to fruition. If some significant parties stay out of the grand coalition, then this vote share could reduce substantially. For example, Trinamool Congress had secured 3.8% vote share in the 2014 elections. If Trinamool Congress stays out of the grand coalition, then this coalition can at most hope to secure between 36% to 31% of votes on average on these 336 seats.
Similarly, Congress had secured 19.5% vote share in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. So, if Congress is not a part of the grand coalition, then the coalition can at most hope to secure between 21% to 16% of votes on average on these 336 seats. Thus, if all of the major non-NDA parties indeed join the grand coalition, then such a coalition can at most hope to secure between 40% to 35% of votes on average on these 336 seats.
This, of course, is average vote share across the 336 seats that the NDA had won in 2014. There will be some constituency-wise variation in these average vote shares. Thus, experts conclude that a grand coalition might be able to secure more votes than NDA on roughly 5% to 10% of these 336 seats, if voting patterns in 2019 remain the same as in 2014. This means that a grand coalition would indeed be able to reduce NDA’s tally successfully by about 17 to 34 seats in this case.
Of course, this analysis is based on average vote shares on the 336 seats that the NDA won in 2014. A constituency wise analysis would reveal exactly which of these 336 seats would definitely go to the grand coalition and which of these seats would have marginal results (where the difference in grand coalition vote share and NDA vote share would be extremely small).
2. Second level: Leakage of votes from the grand coalition
In the 2015 Bihar assembly elections, the grand coalition had secured 41.9% votes (RJD – 18.4%, JDU – 16.8%, Congress – 6.7%). But, in the 2010 Bihar assembly elections, these three parties taken together had secured 49.8% of votes (RJD – 18.8% votes, JDU – 22.6%, Congress – 8.4%). Thus, when these three parties came together in 2015, they lost a whopping 7.9% of their individual vote shares from the previous elections.
This leakage of votes is another problem that any large grand coalition would have to contend with. Consider the state of West Bengal. A TMC vote or a Congress vote in West Bengal is often a vote against the Communist parties and vice versa. If TMC, Congress, and Communist parties come together under one grand coalition, then some anti-TMC voters and some anti-Communist voters may drift away and look for other alternatives. This alternative may be the NDA for some voters and for others, it may be non-grand coalition and non-NDA parties and independents.
Similarly, consider the state of UP. Here, the BSP gets a lot of support from Dalits while Yadavs are seen as SP supporters. But, in many parts of the state, there are allegations of massive harassment of dalits by yadavs during the previous state government. In this case again, if SP and BSP come together under one grand coalition, on those constituencies where the SP puts up a common coalition candidate, large sections of dalit voters may not vote for the grand coalition candidate and may instead opt for other parties or independents.
Considering these factors, experts project that a grand coalition would lose at least between 10% to 15% of the sum of the vote shares of the individual parties on average. This means that, after accounting for potential leakage of votes, on the 336 seats that the NDA won in 2014, a grand coalition can at most hope for a 36% to 32% vote share on average.
3. Third level: 2014 voting patterns vs likely 2019 voting patterns
Till this point, we have only looked at 2014 Lok Sabha election vote shares and have analysed the results of a grand coalition vs NDA battle with these vote shares. In the final level of analysis, we need to project likely changes in vote shares across the 2014 and the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
(continued on the next page)