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Mainstream, VOL LII, No 23, May 31, 2014

52 per cent Seats with 31 per cent Vote-share

Sunday 1 June 2014, by Bharat Dogra


The fact that the BJP has been able to get an absolute majority with just 31 per cent of the total vote-share in the recent Lok Sabha elections has generated a lot of interest. It has been pointed out that never before has any party attained a complete majority with such a low vote-share, the previous low being the 40.8 per cent vote-share obtained by the Congress in 1967 which enabled it to get almost the same number of seats (283) which the BJP has got in 2014 (282) with 10 per cent lower vote-share.

However, this is only to be expected in a situation of increasing multi-cornered contests as in such a situation the total vote is necessarily divided among more candidates. So the candidate who leads the race gets an approximately lesser share of the total vote.

Nevertheless, it’ll be wrong to say on the basis of this data that while 31 per cent voted for the BJP 69 per cent voted against it. A more proper interpretation would be: while the BJP was the first choice for 31 per cent of the voters, for 69 per cent of the voters it was not their first choice.

But even this interpretation of the people’s verdict should make it clear to the BJP that the system, which has elected it to form the government, is a very plural system with many leading players. In fact even these players, who have very meagre presence in the new Lok Sabha (the AAP with its four members and the Communist Parties with their 10 members) or even nil presence (the BSP), have a significant following in the country. Therefore, the BJP should not misinterpret the verdict and should govern keeping in view the legitimate concerns and aspirations of all.

The existing multi-party system and the relative ease with which some new political parties can make their presence felt is actually a strength of India’s democracy. Some people are upset that this is leading increasingly to multi-cornered contests, but the fact that candidates of a new political party and independent candidates can also win is a good sign.

This situation can actually be more promising for alternative politics. If a relatively lesser vote-share in multi-party contests can bring a party nearer to victory, this increases the possi-bilities of success for new political parties with a vision of alternatives politics for justice, equality and environment protection.

Bharat Dogra
C-27, Raksha Kunj,

Paschim Vihar,

New Delhi-110063