Gujarat Elections 2022: How BJP Uses Innovations To Make The Most Of Electoral Trend
The moving robot introduced this time symbolises the BJP’s strong pitch for embracing digital India.
With the entry of digital robots in the campaigning, the Bharatiya Janata Party has taken forward the tradition of introducing one key innovation every five years during assembly elections in Gujarat.
For the first time in India’s electoral history, a robot was seen distributing BJP pamphlets to voters in Nadiad assembly constituency in Gujarat’s Kheda district. While 3D projection technology was extensively used in 2012, the mastery over social media tools was taken to another level in the 2017 assembly elections.
The moving robot introduced this time symbolises the BJP’s strong pitch for embracing digital India that, as the party never tires of saying, is key to building Naya Bharat.
Through campaign innovations, political commentators say, the BJP always tries to send across a message that it walks the talk—that digital India is not just a slogan but a way of doing things efficiently for the party. To make sense of how small tweaks help the BJP, we need to take a look at some of the recent electoral trends in the state. And here are some:
The Preference For Parties Has Grown
Two data points—greater winnability of fresh faces and rebels doing poorly in all elections since 1998—show that people vote for parties and not individual candidates in Gujarat’s assembly elections. While more than 50% of the first-timers won the elections, the rebels could win, on an average, only one out of every seven seats they contested in 2017. In fact, the probability of rebels winning their seats has been less than 15% since 1998. It used to be quite high in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In a state where a party receives more weightage than its representatives in polls, such campaign tweaks have worked to the advantage of the BJP as they reinforce the party’s core governance agenda.
Emergence Of Competitive Politics
A review of data of all elections since 1962 shows that electoral competition has been intensifying in the state in recent years. While a large number of assembly seats used to be won with a winning margin in excess of 30 per cent in the 1980s, the difference between the winner and the runner up has narrowed in the last few elections. According to reliable estimates, the winning margin was less than 5% in 57 assembly constituencies in 2017. As against this, only a handful of seats were won with a big margin of 30% and more last time round.
In the midst of intensifying electoral competition, what works for the BJP is its well-oiled election machinery.
The High-Low Turnout Phases
In three of the last six elections, the state witnessed a rise in voter turnout. The biggest jump was in 1995 when the BJP registered a big win for the first time. In the other three occasions, the turnout witnessed a drop. And this included the one in 2017 also. 2017 is when the BJP’s final seats tally dropped below the 100 mark after a long time. What this turnout data analysis shows is that more people turning out to vote shows a higher level of enthusiasm and that has helped the BJP thus far.
Predominantly Pro-Incumbency Mood
Gujarat is one of those states where pro-incumbency has been a dominant theme. An analysis of the state's hitherto electoral history shows that the Congress remained a predominant force for close to three decades beginning 1962. A reversal of sorts happened in 1995 with the Congress’ vote share dropping to just 33% that year.
The Congress’ vote share has been inching up since then. The BJP’s vote share too has been going up all this while and it hit a high of 49 per cent in 2017. Gujarat’s political history thus suggests that people do wait out patiently to see the full impact of their voting preferences. In such a scenario, strong communication skills using symbols has helped the BJP.
Will Gujarat witness more of the same this time too or there are twists and turns waiting to happen? All that we can do is to wait and see.