ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

National Election Study 2014Subscribe to National Election Study 2014

Class Voting in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections

How did the middle- and upp er-middle-class voters vote in the 2014 elections? Apart from purely numerical effects, the middle class is electorally more impactful relative to its size because of its human capital and opinion-shaping character. The pro-BJP swing among the middle classes, indicated by the Lokniti post-poll survey, cannot be attributed to an anti-minority shift in middle-class opinion nationally, nor to simple economic dissatisfaction, or to a broader attitudinal shift towards economic liberalisation; we have to search for more complex explanations.

Regional Parties in the 16th Lok Sabha Elections

This paper attempts to explain why some regional parties flourished and others fizzled out in the 16th general elections to the Lok Sabha. To explain this variation, it makes a distinction between regionally-located parties and regionalist parties. While both are regional parties in the sense that they have territorially limited arenas of operation they are different in terms of their programme and agenda. In the 2014 elections, the regionally-located parties fared relatively poorly compared to regionalist parties. This paper argues that success and failure often depend on the efforts, strategies and tactics of competitors. It concludes that the strategy of the Bharatiya Janata Party was favourable to the electoral fortunes of regionalist parties and disadvantageous to the regionally-located parties.

India's 2014 Lok Sabha Elections

A clear majority for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Lok Sabha and its spread across most states in the 2014 general elections marks a departure from the electoral outcomes of almost a quarter century. The BJP's success was made possible, among other factors, due to its electoral strategy of reinventing social engineering in what may be termed as its second transformation. As a result, it secured significant support among the Other Backward Classes as well as scheduled caste and scheduled tribe voters to gain a winning edge. Besides this, its promise of development and the projection of Modi as a strong and decisive leader attracted support among the lower and middle classes. This will have far-reaching implications to the structure of party competition in the coming years and shape the post-Congress polity. However, enthusiastic over-readings of the mandate would pose a challenge to the BJP even as it searches for ways to entrench itself as a dominant national party in India.

Development and Governance Trump Caste Identities in Uttar Pradesh

The landslide victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha elections surprised not only its rivals and political observers, but even its own leaders. While the 71 seats won in UP significantly contributed to the BJP securing a majority in the Lok Sabha on its own, it is significant that the party made electoral gains across all castes and communities and across all regions in the state. This victory signalled a paradigm shift in voter behaviour, with a preference for good governance and development pushing out the identity politics of caste and community.

BJP Crafts a New Social Coalition in Bihar

The electoral verdict in Bihar can be attributed to two factors. One, there was a clear preference among the voters for change at the centre. Two, the Bharatiya Janata Party's emphasis on carefully crafting a caste alliance allowed it to leapfrog its rivals.

Does Media Exposure Affect Voting Behaviour and Political Preferences in India?

Analysing the National Election Study data from 1996 to 2014, this paper examines the effect of media exposure on Indian elections to reach four main conclusions. First, in the last two decades, Indian electorates have been more exposed to the media than ever before. Second, in the 2014 elections, electorates with higher media exposure were more likely to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party. Third, voters with higher media exposure were more likely to vote for the BJP in previous Lok Sabha elections as well, and, in that sense, the 2014 elections were no different. Fourth, media exposure influenced the political preferences of people. It also finds that electorates with higher media exposure were more likely to support economic liberalisation, but that it made no difference on social conservatism.

The BJP's 2014 'Modi Wave'

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party put together an unprecedented social coalition: in addition to the upper castes and Other Backward Classes, it received support from the scheduled tribes and scheduled castes. We argue that the BJP built this coalition, in addition to energising its traditional base of social conservatives, by mobilising voters who favour less state intervention in the economy. Narendra Modi's anointment as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate aided this strategy, as Modi is widely perceived to be a socially conservative, pro-market leader. The sclerotic performance of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government over the past few years compounded the BJP's own efforts. Though the BJP's support base remains Hindu, upper caste, and Hindi-speaking, these other two factors helped the BJP break the social and geographical barriers necessary to secure an outright Lok Sabha majority.

The Defeat of the Congress

The Congress Party's defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections reflected not just its failure to retain its vote shares of the previous polls in 2004 and 2009, but also the lack of a clear social profile of its voters. Most social sections had deserted the party (barring the Muslims) as its long-term decline from being India's grand old party was evident in these elections. The lack of adequate leadership and confusion in its ranks played an important role, but there were other systemic reasons for the Congress's defeat.

Leadership in Context

The 2014 Lok Sabha elections saw an effort by the Bharatiya Janata Party to project leadership as a key strategy in its campaign. The response of the electorate provided important indications of the effect of leadership on the outcome of elections in India. The effect of the leadership issue needs to be viewed in the context of a United Progressive Alliance government that was on the defensive and a Congress leadership that looked ineffective and directionless. These added weight to the BJP's projection of Narendra Modi as a decisive, effective and experienced leader.
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