Simultaneously with the parliamentary polls, Assembly elections will be held in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Will the timing have a bearing on the voting choices in these states and, thereby, the results?
Since 2004, polling data shows, voters have generally chosen the same party in both state and national polls when they were held simultaneously.
A 2015 study by the IDFC Institute found “a 77% chance that the winning political party or alliance will win both the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in that state when held simultaneously”. If the elections are held six months apart, however, only 61% of the voters choose the same party.
While Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim will vote on April 11, Odisha will vote in three phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29. The general election will be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, with the counting on May 23.
Here’s how Indians have voted in simultaneous parliamentary and Assembly polls in the past decade and a half.
In 2004, simultaneous elections were held in Odisha, Karnataka, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh. The voters largely picked the same party to govern in their respective states and at the Centre.
In Odisha, where Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had dissolved the Assembly around a year prematurely, the incumbent Biju Janata Dal won 61 of the 147 Assembly seats, while its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, took 32 seats to retain power. In the Lok Sabha election, the Biju Janata Dal won 11 of the state’s 21 seats while its partner bagged seven.
The Karnataka Assembly polls saw the BJP emerge as the single largest party with 79 of the 224 seats. The Congress took 65 seats and the Janata Dal (Secular) 58, and they formed a coalition government. The general election followed the same pattern: the BJP won 18 of the 28 seats, while the Congress got eight and the Janata Dal (Secular) two.
In Andhra Pradesh, the popularity of YS Rajasekhara Reddy helped the Congress sweep both the state and national elections. Of the 294 Assembly seats, the party bagged 185. The Telugu Desam Party, which had been in power for a decade, came a distant second with 47 seats. Interestingly, the Telugu Desam Party’s vote share was only about 1% less than the Congress’s.
Similarly, the Congress won 29 of the 42 parliamentary seats while its rival got just five. In fact, its strong performance in Andhra Pradesh proved crucial as the grand old party marginally beat the BJP nationally, taking 145 seats to the saffron party’s 138, and then cobbled together a coalition government with support from the Left Front and regional parties.
In Sikkim, Pawan Kumar Chamling’s Sikkim Democratic Front easily retained power by getting 31 of the 32 Assembly seats with 71.1% of the vote. The party also won the state’s lone parliamentary seat.
The Congress’s decision to form pre-poll alliances for the 2009 general election paid rich dividends. The party surprised everyone by winning 206 of the 543 seats while its United Progressive Alliance took 262 seats, enough to stay in power for a second term with support from regional parties such as the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, Lok Janshakti Party. The grand old party’s vote share rose to 28.6% from 26.5% in 2004.
In 2009, simultaneous national and state elections were held in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim. Again, the people generally voted for the same party in both elections.
Reddy continued his dominance in Andhra by winning his party 33 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats, and 156 of the 294 Assembly seats. Still, the Telugu Desam Party did better than in the previous election, winning six parliamentary and 92 Assembly seats.
Similarly, Patnaik maintained his winning run in Odisha, taking 14 parliamentary and 103 Assembly seats. It was a particularly impressive showing considering his party had contested alone after breaking off its alliance with the BJP following the Kandhamal carnage. The Congress got only six Lok Sabha seats. It hasn’t won any since.
In Sikkim, Chamling returned as chief minister for the fourth consecutive term after his party won all 32 Assembly seats as well as the lone parliamentary seat.
For the first time in three decades, a single party won a parliamentary majority in India. Propelled by Narendra Modi, the BJP won 282 Lok Sabha seats, with its vote share rising to 31% from 18.8% five years earlier.
The Congress, on the other hand, was reduced to a shadow of its former self, taking barely 44 seats, its lowest tally ever. The party could not manage to get even 10% of the total seats to be recognised as the official Opposition.
In 2014, state elections were simultaneously held in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
Reddy’s death in a helicopter crash in 2009 had dealt a big blow to the Congress in Andhra. The party sought to arrest the slide by hurriedly deciding to bifurcate the state to carve out Telangana. The move backfired, however. The Telugu Desam Party returned to power in the truncated Andhra by winning 103 of the 175 Assembly seats and 15 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats. The Congress was wiped out, failing to win a single seat in either election. The party’s vote share plummeted to just 2.8% in the national election and 2.94% in the state polls.
In Odisha, Patnaik’s decision to go it alone, just as in 2009, paid off handsomely, with his party seeing its vote share jump by 7% and winning all but one of the 21 seats. In the Assembly election, the Biju Janata Dal won 117 of the 147 seats with a vote share of 43.9%. The Congress trailed far behind with 16 seats.
One of the few states where the Congress had a decent showing in the last election was Arunachal Pradesh. The party won 42 of the 60 Assembly seats to form the government, only to see 41 of its legislators rebel and join the People’s Party of Arunachal, an ally of the BJP, in 2018.
The Congress won one of the state’s Lok Sabha seats, with the other going to the BJP.
In Sikkim, Chamling again retained power, although with a reduced majority. His party won 22 of the 32 Assembly seats, with 55% of the total vote. It retook the Lok Sabha seat as well.