An interesting pattern that the voters of Gujarat follow consistently

By Japan K Pathak

Ahmedabad, 12 September 2012

This is the eighth article of JP’s ‘Gujarat Election 2012′ series on DeshGujarat. In this series, the first article was about the possible election schedule, the second article made the point that Gujarat elections in 2012 are incomparable with Gujarat assembly elections of the past. The third article was about abolished seats. The fourth article was about newly added seats. The fifth article was about changes in the reserved seats for SC/STs and its impacts over political career of RC Faldu, Nitin Patel, Pradipsinh Jadeja and others. In the sixth article I shared the final delimitation order with some historical background. In seventh article I talked about the results of 2009 Lok Sabha polls in Gujarat perspective. Now here is the eighth article in this series.

Alright, in last article we discussed how in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the Gujarat Congress secured more votes than their rival BJP on some 75-80 seats, and how this figure is working like an energy drink for the Congress(because half mark is 92 seats and they think with some extra efforts and manipulations they can touch the mark).

I briefly mentioned in last article that people vote differently in Lok Sabha and assembly elections. I promised I would throw more light on this.

So let’s put 2009 aside for a while and go to the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress party had received more votes compared to rivals BJP in as many as 92 assembly areas in 2004 Lok Sabha polls in Gujarat. 92 is one more than the majority mark. So after the 2004 results, the Congress party in Gujarat was jubilant and was expecting a victory in subsequent assembly elections in 2007. But in 2007 assembly elections, the party couldn’t even get odd 60 seats.

In the course of writting this series, I am studying lots of material on past elections in Gujarat with the aim to find some kind of common voting pattern.

One interesting pattern, discovered so far is about voting percentages. In the last three Lok Sabha elections, voting percentage in Gujarat was around 45%, while in last three assembly elections voting percentage was around 60%. This means around 15% more people go to cast their votes in assembly elections compared to Lok Sabha polls!

Assembly polls and voting percentage in Gujarat

1998 – 59.30%
2002 – 61.54%
2007 – 59.77%

Lok Sabha polls and voting percentage in Gujarat

1996 – 35.92%
1999 – 47.03%
2004 – 45.60%
2009 – 47.92%

(Note: In 1998, both assembly and Lok Sabha elections were held together, therefore both polls jointly attracted 59.30% voters. If Lok Sabha polls were held separately then there could have possibly been around 45% turnout just like any other Lok Sabha polls in Gujarat).

This pattern suggests that regularly 15% more voters go to vote in assembly elections. Why does it happen so?

Well in the Lok Sabha polls, there are 26 seats, while in the Assembly polls there are 182 seats. So in the Lok Sabha polls, the number of serious candidates is around 52 while in the Vidhansabha polls it would be anything around 365-400, and perhaps more. So there are more active players. This contributes to more voting.

If I ask you, when was the last time you needed to approach your Lok Sabha representative, you would probably say you never needed him/her. This is one more reason why the Lok Sabha polls would not interest most people.

One reason, that could be playing its role is weather. While the last few Gujarat assembly polls took place in December, the Lok Sabha polls arrived in terrible summer.

When it’s December, everything is pleasant – take campaign or polling day or say our activity level. But under the scorching sun of April, it’s completely opposite.

There could be tons of other factors contributing to more polling in assembly polls. Some of them are too obvious and I’m not listing them all.

So in 2004 Lok Sabha polls, Congress gets a lead in 92 seats, but with overall 45.60% voting in the state. In 2007 Congress falls to below 60, with overall polling in the state at 59.77%.

And 15% difference in voting makes a huge difference. Forget 15%, even 1.5% can make a significant difference in results.

In the 1999 Lok Sabha polls, Congress got a 45.44% vote share, while the BJP got 52.48% of the votes. Thus there was around 7% difference. BJP received 20 seats while Congress only 6.

In 2004 the BJP got 47% votes while the Congress 44%. So compared to earlier 7% gap, the difference this time is only 3% – just a four percent change. And see the results – while Congress won 12 seats, the BJP won 14. So just due to a 4% shift, the Congress won double the number of Lok Sabha seats compared to previous polls.

A vast difference in polling percentage is one reason why we should not predict Vidhansabha poll results on the basis of Lok Sabha polls outcome. Even then if you were to take the 2009 Lok Sabha polls as a barometer, the BJP won more votes in 105 constituencies. Now with an addition of 15% voters (which is expected looking at past trends) the BJP should comfortably get at least 120-125 seats(While coming to this conclusion, I consider other factors too).

Nevertheless we will take a look at the list of assembly segments where Congress performed well in 2009 Lok Sabha polls in next article. In future I will also talk about more interesting patterns discovered through thorough study of Gujarat’s political history.

Author can be reached at japanpathak [at]