Thursday, 18 August, 2022
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The real numbers in UP civic poll results bring worrying news for BJP

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Out of the 5,390 nagar panchayat seats for which results have been declared, the BJP could win only in 662 wards.

Politics is the art of perception management. It might not always be related to the truth, and the whole edifice might be built on propaganda.

The Uttar Pradesh civic body election results are a prime example of the BJP’s clever use of statistics. Before all the results were out, the BJP proclaimed it had swept the elections. The BJP had won 14 mayoral posts out of 16. If one makes an assessment just on the basis of this number, then the BJP had indeed repeated its performance in the assembly polls.

But as the party highlighted the mayoral victory, it hid the bad news buried in the nagar panchayat wards.

Even the newspapers got carried away by this projection and hailed it as another milestone for the party. It was fresh proof that voters are not unhappy with the demonetisation and the GST mess. The BJP said that the Gujarat assembly elections would produce similar results.

Is it smart propaganda or masterly use of data to convince people of Gujarat to not desert the party?

The BJP had swept the UP mayoral polls in 2012 as well, much before Modi and Yogi had arrived on the scene. The results on Friday are indeed a reaffirmation of BJP’s unassailable position in municipal corporations and its muscular organisational presence in big cities.

But the mayoral elections were just a small part of the elections. In two phases, the people of UP voted for more than 10,000 wards, 438 nagar panchayat chairpersons and 198 municipal council chairpersons. Out of the 5,390 nagar panchayat seats for which results have been declared, the BJP could win only 662 wards, whereas others won 4,728. This is not a happy situation for a party which had just recorded a landslide victory in this year’s assembly elections. Its strike rate is only 12.22 per cent.

In the municipal council member seats, the BJP candidates performed a little better. Out of 5,217 wards, the BJP managed to defeat its opponents in 914 wards. In other words, the BJP lost in 4,303 seats. Its strike rate was better in these polls – an improvement of five per cent to 17.53 per cent.

For chairpersons’ posts in nagar panchayats, BJP candidates vanquished their opponents in 100 seats, but also lost 337 (strike rate 22.83 per cent). For municipal council chairpersons’ posts, the BJP won 68 seats and lost 127, a strike rate of 35.35 per cent.

There is also a twist in the tale. The elections for civic bodies were held using EVMs, but the rest using ballot papers. This means that in polls conducted using EVMs, the BJP’s performance ratio is exceptionally high, i.e. 87 per cent. But wherever elections were held using paper ballots, the BJP’s performance was shockingly poor; though it is also true that the SP and BSP did not improve their performance. About 70 per cent of seats were won by independents. But the difference in results between polls conducted using EVMs and paper ballots can give a fresh impetus to the EVM controversy.

Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati immediately raised the issue of EVM manipulation. They alleged that the BJP had lost badly where elections were held using ballot paper. Nobody knows when this mystery, if ever, will be solved, but one can infer that the BJP has definitely ceded ground in the last few months. It can also be deduced that there is a clear divide between big cities and small cities.

Big cities are solidly with the BJP, despite demonetisation and GST. In small cities, people are upset with the BJP, which is not a good sign for the party. In the 2014 parliamentary election, when the BJP won 73 seats out of 80 and in the 2017 assembly elections, the BJP was evenly supported by small towns and big cities. On both occasions, the BJP had achieved an unprecedented mandate.

What has to be analysed is if the fall is due to Modi’s rule at the Centre, Yogi’s performance in the last eight months, or both. Or is there something else which experts are unable to fathom?

Interestingly, the BJP lost in ward number 68 of Gorakhpur. This is the ward where the Chief Minister had voted. An independent candidate, Nadira Khatun, defeated the BJP’s Maya Tripathi.

Modi is a smart politician. He should not be misled by his own propaganda. Even if propaganda can help him split a few votes in Gujarat in his favour, if he has to succeed in the 2019 parliamentary elections, he has to find a reason behind the loss soon. Sure, perception is important, but sometimes reality can catch you unawares, to brutal effect.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. The author of the article is himself a victim of presenting the statistics to support his point of view. Why have the percentages of only the BJP been quoted? A telltale slip of “70% seats won by independents” is indicative of the fact that organised political parties may not be attaching too much importance to these elections. It would be interesting to see of all the percentages are presented, whether the narrative presented by Mr. Ashutosh still holds.

    Although AAP is protesting against the use of EVMs, which is a boon of technology; they have not been able to tamper any EVM while it is in use in an actual election. They have nothing to add to the improvement in the process by the use of the paper trail.

  2. There is no mention of the true picture of the elections in U>P> either in the leading Newspapers or the ever in frenzy embedded anchors of the electronic media. The creation of less than truthful perceptions are bound to rebound one day.

  3. Many reasons could be there for these results. 1. Mor fragmented are voters in these elections. Many wards could be anti-BJP voters like Yadavs and Muslims dominated. Many independent candidates could fragment votes. Finding very clean and honest candidates is a problem. Also, the party can not focus on at every location. Paper voting can also be fraud-prone in anti-BJP wards

  4. The problem with The Print,Scroll and The Wire is that they always negate and criticise the BJP bcz their entire survival depends upon anti- BJP stand and pro Congress n left.They should b realistic unlike the so called pseudosickular parties who oppose the BJP for the sake of opposing.

  5. Were elections contested on party symbol .How are you deciding that BJP or other party win the elections. Are you a journalist or p????????.

  6. This is called impartial news reporting.
    I would like to say thankyou to reporter Ashutosh for getting deep down into it.

  7. The political understanding of the column writer is very superficial and his LSCM of understanding of the electoral politics dynamics. It is quite phenomenal the success rate of the dominant sharply increases as the constituency size increases. This is actually the case here not the EVM. Let me explain it, in a constituency out of 100 polled votes, say party A secures 55 votes and party B secures 45 votes (assuming only two parties contesting). Then, A will win with a big margin of 10% votes.
    Now, each vote represents one constituent ward, thus total 100 wards. With the same vote base of 55 votes party A will win only 55 wards and B will take away 45 wards.
    Therefore, with 55% votes A will get100% success at higher level say chairman or mayor but will succeed only 55% in ward or lower level.
    This has actually happened here. In the same 16 Nagar Nigams BJP success rate was 87.5% for mayoral posts (14 out of 16), but at ward level they got only 46% success ( 592 out of 1300).

    Not only the above explained mathematical phenomenon, there is one more phenomenon of voting. Ad the constituency size goes on decreasing, voters candidate relationship becomes closer. People’s voting preferences are guided by opp personal relationship, less guided by party considerations.

  8. Ballot papers can be more easily manipulated by local warlords in the hinterland. Whereas the evms are less immune .
    All opposition leaders should bear this in mind too. Hence naturally they shall prefer ballot papers. Was the Punjab assembly elections held on ballot papers?.

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