Thursday, July 18, 2024

Lok Sabha elections 2024 | Splits in parties, divided opposition; Who benefits in the Lok Sabha? What is the strategy behind this? | leader

Leaders Online: There was a vertical split in Maharashtra first Shiv Sena and then NCP. Shiv Sena was divided into Eknath Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Ajit Pawar and Sharad Pawar. Will the split between these two parties be a benefit or a loss for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections? Such discussion is going on now. But the strategy of the major parties in the last few elections has been that the smaller the difference in the opposition, the easier the way to win. (Lok Sabha elections 2024)

Under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system adopted by the British, a party does not need to win more than 50 percent of the vote to win a constituency. In a two-party system only, 50 percent of the vote is required for victory. In a multi-party system, winning a seat requires more votes than the second-placed party.

India never had a two party system. But with the passage of time the importance of other parties besides the two parties increased. Then there was a split in the parties, groups of divisive leaders were formed and new parties were formed out of this. In that case, the question of rules also arose. Often the major parties split the opposition parties and encouraged their key leaders to form new factions or parties.

A strategy to win by dividing the opposition

A party needs more than half the votes to win. In a scenario where the three parties split the vote nearly evenly, with each party receiving 33.3 percent of the vote, the winning candidate would only need 33.4 percent of the vote to win. Based on this strategy, many candidates have won elections in the last few years with a margin of less than 30 percent of the votes of the opposition. For example, in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, RJD's candidate from Buxar constituency in Bihar won with only 21.3 percent votes. In the same election, the BJP candidate from Bihar's Nawada constituency had won with 22.5 percent votes. While an independent candidate from Chatra constituency in Jharkhand was elected with a margin of 22.9 percent votes. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress candidate from Ludhiana constituency in Punjab won with 27.3 percent votes. In the same Lok Sabha election, the candidate of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (Bharat Rashtra Samiti) won 28.5 percent votes in Mahbubabad constituency of Andhra Pradesh and CPM candidate won 28.7 percent votes in Raiganj constituency of West Bengal.

A 10 percent drop in the percentage of the winner's votes

Elections of the last few years have shown that candidates are getting elected with a very small margin of votes due to the split in the opposition. In the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections between 1952-1977, the average percentage of votes received by the winning party or Aghadi was 47 percent. In the second phase elections between 1977-2002, the winning party got an average of 43 percent of the votes. Then 55 years later, in the third phase of elections between 2002-2019, the percentage of the winner's votes dropped by 10 percent to 37 percent. The grand alliance that won the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 had a mere 38 percent vote share. This means the percentage of winning votes is dropping significantly.

The opposition is further divided

The opposition is more divided in Lok Sabha elections than in state assembly elections. As a result, the percentage of winning votes in assembly elections has come down to 40 percent, which, though very low, is not as low as 37 percent in the Lok Sabha. More parties come together and form alliances at the state level before assembly elections. This is one of the reasons why the percentage of winning votes decreases.

What is the first-past-the-post system?

First-past-the-post (FPTP) system is also known as simple majority system. In this voting system whoever gets the most votes in a constituency; That candidate is declared the winner. This system is used in elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies in India. Although this method is relatively simple, it does not always allow for a true representative mandate, as a candidate can win an election with less than half of the votes cast. In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won 336 seats with only 38.5 percent of the popular vote. Also, smaller parties representing specific groups have less chance of getting elected in this electoral system.

In this article election analysts and journalists Pranay Roy and Dorab R. Sopariwala's 'The Verdict: Decoding India's Elections' References in this book are used.

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