Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) was formed in 2007 by amalgamating the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH) and 12 neighboring municipalities. GHMC’s geographic extent covers around 626 square km spread over 3 districts, 24 assembly constituencies and 5 Loksabha constituencies.
The first elections to the reconstituted corporation were held in 2009. The next elections should have been conducted when its term expired in 2014. There was a good deal of delay accompanied by litigation, media posturing & sound bytes. The much anticipated elections were notified on January 12, 2016.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), the ruling party in Telangana, the main opposition party Congress as well as All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (Majlis or MIM) decided to fight the polls on their own. Telugu Desham Party (TDP), the ruling party in neighboring Andhra Pradesh (AP) state and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) the central ruling party continued their alliance forged in 2014 under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) umbrella albeit in a partially successful form. YSR Congress party (YCP), the main opposition in AP, decided to abstain from contesting, probably a wise decision in hindsight.
The ensuing campaign was quite colorful and kept media folks extremely busy. TRS virtually painted the city pink by putting up huge posters listing the achievements claimed by the state government at almost all important intersections. TDP came a somewhat distant second in the war for eyeballs while the other parties “also ran”.
Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao (KCR), TRS strongman and Telangana Chief Minister, mostly stayed away restricting himself to a lone public meeting and a long press conference (described as “e-campaign”) beamed live in many channels. The campaign mantle fell on his son & cabinet colleague Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao (KTR) who took the lead by hitting the road from dawn to dusk. Several leaders including ministers, members of parliament (MP) & legislators toiled along contributing their mite.
Nara Chandra Babu Naidu, TDP president and AP Chief Minister, played a more active role in the campaign than his Telangana counterpart addressing two public meetings and participating in a few roadshows. The star campaigner for NDA however was Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh Babu who gave KTR a run for his money both in terms of working hours and media exposure. Several TDP & BJP leaders including virtually the entire AP cabinet worked hard for their candidates.
Even though the Congress election campaign was comparatively subdued, there was no dearth of optimism in the statements of party leaders. Majlis preferred to stick to its traditional low key style concentrating on corner meetings and door-to-door canvassing.
KTR in his campaign focused heavily on the same government achievements highlighted in the posters. Lokesh preferred to claim his party had done wonders for Hyderabad during its past rule. In a rather interesting but irritating vein he repeated ad nauseum “my grandfather beautified the Tankbund while my father built Hitec city”. BJP’s refrain centered on the central government’s performance and assertions that the TRS government’s claimed achievements were funded by the center. Congress chose the TDP path of “we developed Hyderabad during our rule”. I wonder if any of these folks or the media realized the elections were for the corporation, not the assembly or Loksabha.
As one would expect in the roadshow map, the speeches were short and more or less repetitions. The media did not appear to mind though. There was near zero coverage of Majlis activities: a fact almost certainly dominated by the viewer profile undeterred by ground realities.
The elections conducted on February 2, 2016 passed off uneventfully but for a handful of minor incidents with a lone ward (ward # 52 Puranapool) needing a repoll. The votes were counted and results declared on February 5, 2016.
Objectives of this analysis
Various opinion polls were conducted in the run-up to the elections followed by several exit polls. As per a practice that looks to be peculiar to the Indian landscape, none of the agencies provided any reasonable information on the methodology including sampling.
The general thrust of most of these polls was that TRS would emerge a clear leader with 75-85 wards followed by Majlis (40-45 wards), NDA (20-25 wards) and Congress (10-15 wards) in that order with other minor parties and/or independents cornering a couple of wards. KTR & several TRS leaders repeatedly claimed during the campaign they would win 100+ wards inviting much debate.
The actual results, while reiterating TRS ascendancy & Majlis turf maintenance, proved the pollsters wrong by a good margin. Let me repeat the final numbers for the record even though all readers know these well:
•NDA: 5 (BJP: 4 plus TDP: 1)
I would imagine the results call for certain amount of analysis by the pollsters. If any of these worthies did analyze the results to see where they went wrong, they chose not to share this information.
This apart, there are various reasons why the results needs to be analyzed gainfully given the historical nature of the outcome. For starters, this is the first time in the living memory of all but elderly Hyderabadis that the city conferred an absolute majority on any single party or even an alliance. The sheer sweep of the TRS victory deserves to be understood much better than is conveyed by the cold numbers. Finally for a party that skipped the first GHMC elections in 2009, this is a true a rags-to-riches story.
Some of the questions I will try to answer are as follows:
- What is the true scope of this victory?
- What does the future portend for TDP, BJP & Congress in Hyderabad or even Telangana?
- What is likely to happen if assembly & Loksabha elections are held today?
- How the inter-party NDA dynamics playing out?
- How did the Hyderabadi vote swing in the last few years?
- Finally the reasons behind this verdict to the extent they can be ascertained
I realize any findings that emerge will only have a limited term shelf life, probably a couple of years. A detailed analysis is nevertheless necessary in my opinion given the historic nature of the result.
A total of 1,333 candidates contested in the 150 wards. Eight wards recorded the lowest contestant count of 4 candidates. Jangammet (ward # 45) topped the list with 28 candidates followed by the 21 aspirants fighting it out at Suraram (ward # 129).
In terms of electorate, Subashnagar (ward # 130) led the way with 89,158 electors while Mehdipatnam (ward # 70) was the baby of the pack with just 29,853 electors. Mehdipatnam also recorded the fewest voters at 10,046 while the 39,010 voters of ward # 59 Mailardevpally recorded the highest vote count. Mehdipatnam had a bad day as it also recorded the lowest turnout of 33.7% followed closely by ward # 73 Vijay Nagar Colony (34.5%). Patancheru (ward # 113) was the champion in turnout with 57.7% of its electors going out to vote with Ramanthapur (ward # 9) doing quite well at 57.6%. The overall turnout was 45.1%, a number that was claimed (wrongly as it turns out) by media & observers as quite creditable.
A total of 20 political parties were in the fray. Independents totaling 643 in all polled around 4.5%. All political parties excluding the five principal contestants failed to breach the 1% mark. TRS was the only party to field candidates from all 150 wards while Congress just behind having missed Chawni (ward # 29). Majlis, in a strategy that appears to have worked well for them, entered the fray in just 60 wards.
As mentioned earlier, the alliance between TDP & BJP did not work out as well as the leaders may have hoped. The two parties indulged in “friendly contests” in as many as 13 wards. Rather strangely both the parties failed to nominate candidates in three wards including Chawni.
Loksatta party (LSP), an unrecognized political party founded and led by ex-bureaucrat Dr. Nagabhairava Jaya Prakash Narayan, formed an alliance with the two communist parties, a strange right-left combination. This alliance contested 68 wards but did not otherwise trouble the statisticians as their combined vote tally stayed under the 1% mark.
Twelve candidates secured single digit votes while 467 others fell short of three digits. Fortunately for me & my fellow analysts no contestant was out for a duck thus saving us from division by zero spreadsheet problems! As many as 1,013 individuals lost their deposit.
All but nine of the 320 aspirants that retained their deposits hailed from the five major parties. Three of these belonged to the Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT), a party formed two decades ago by breaking away from the Majlis. Five independents and a lone communist also retained their deposits. It may be possible that some of these so called “independents” were party rebels but I found this difficult to verify.
The most important statistic (in fact more important than wards won) is obviously vote share. The highly concentrated Majlis performance is a peculiarity associated with Hyderabad that needs to be addressed for a better understanding. I therefore also calculated vote share performances in the 44 wards Majlis won and the 106 it lost separately. The results are tabulated below:
The implications are clear: TRS not only swept the non-Majlis wards but also put in a creditable performance in the Majlis wards outperforming all other competitors put together. A 50%+ vote share in a three horse (TRS, NDA & Congress) race is as near a landslide as one can imagine.
Let us look at the 2014 elections to put the above in perspective. In what was clearly a three horse race TRS polled 46.1% of the votes in the five North Telangana districts with its best performance at 48.3% in the Karimnagar district. In the virtually direct contest with YCP in AP, NDA polled just around 46.9%. The 50.5% share TRS achieved in the 106 non-Majlis wards is not only its best performance ever but would have fetched dramatic windfall even if the contest was, like the AP situation in 2014, limited to just two parties.
As the usefulness of the OTH category is exhausted, I am dropping these folks going forward. I will also club the two NDA “allies” assuming that the votes cast for either party as the alliance vote. I will return to treating TDP & BJP separately when I analyze the inter-party NDA dynamics.
The number of votes polled in a given ward is clear indication of popularity. The party wise performance across vote bands is given below:
Raziya Begum, the Congress candidate from Erragadda (ward # 101) earned the dubious distinction of polling the least votes among major party nominees. Her 64 votes represented a grand total of 0.3% in the ward! Another 37 of her colleagues failed to cross three digits.
Siraj Sultana, TDP nominee from Talab Chanchalam (ward # 34) ended up being the only other major party nominee to poll two digit votes. Another 17 of her NDA colleagues fell below the century mark. Majlis (2 nominees) and TRS (3 candidates) acquitted themselves reasonably well in the fight for the rock bottom status.
Mehdipatnam hit another record low in this election as the 5,356 votes polled by the Majlis candidate and former Mayor Mohammed Majid Hussain was the lowest winning performance. We can therefore reasonably conclude that any candidate polling less than 5,000 votes stood no chance of making it through while those polling 10,000 votes can consider themselves definitely in the running.
With the above perspective it is evident just 6% of the TRS candidates and 10% of the Majlis nominees can be regarded as no-hopers. A fifth of the NDA aspirants and almost half the Congress folks were doomed to fail.
Around 57% of the TRS candidates and a third of the Majlis nominees, on the other hand, did sufficiently well at the hustling to expect a reasonably good chance of winning. The corresponding number for NDA was under 6% while not a single Congress aspirant came close to the “expectation threshold”.
Performance by vote share is another useful indicator. The party wise results showing the number of wards against vote share is shown below.
The implications are again obvious. TRS failed to cross the 20% threshold in only a seventh of the wards it contested while Majlis at one-sixths did only slightly worse. The corresponding number for NDA was 45.7% (73 out of 160 candidates) while Congress put in a pathetic performance with 89.9% of its candidates falling short of the 20% threshold.
On the other side almost 60% of the TRS candidates breached the 40% mark that can be considered reasonably winnable in a three horse race. Given its strategic selective focus Majlis did even better at 64.9%. The news for NDA was not good as just 9 of its nominees reached this “comfort level” while Congress’s tally was a grand duck.
Retaining or losing the security deposit is closely related to the percent of votes polled by candidates running for office. This system was originally designed to keep fringe and/or flippant individuals from contesting although it does not appear to have succeeded in its objective. Let us now check how each party fared in this regard by comparing deposit forfeitures:
- TRS: 16 (10.7%)
- Majlis: 10 (16.7%)
- NDA: 56 (35.0%)
- Congress: 126 (84.6%)
Turns out more than a third of NDA contestants and all but a eighth of the Congress folks should not even have run given their poor showing.
Looking at a different angle, Majlis outperformed all the other four major parties put together in 30 of the 44 wards it won, nearly a two-thirds credit. TRS did so in as many as 75 wards i.e. three-quarters victory run. In addition, TRS scored more than the combined votes of its three “traditional rivals” in another 38 wards winning 4 and conceding the other 34 to Majlis.
BJP was the only other party that could repeat this feat in just one instance (ward # 50, Begum Bazar). The party also outscored all “traditional rivals” in Ghansi Bazar (ward # 49).
The majority scored by the winner provides an indication of the party strength in its strongholds. The party wise performance across majority bands is given below:
D. Mohan contesting on Majlis ticket from Jambagh (ward # 77) won with just 9 votes majority over his TRS rival. TRS nominee from Goshamahal (ward # 51, 78 vote majority) was the only one keeping him company in the sub-century majority category. Samala Hema of the TRS contesting from Seetaphalmandi (ward # 55) was the star performer of the day with a majority of 15,180 votes. The fact that her overall count of 19,533 votes was the highest in the election makes her an undisputed champion!
This reinforces the findings so far. Around 64% of the TRS winners and 55% of the Majlis victors crossed the 5,000 vote majority mark while a handful of winners from either party scraped through the barrel.
Did the winners excessively focus on winnable seats to maximize their opportunities? If yes, this would reflect in the rank they scored in the wards they did not win. TRS stood second in a quarter of seats they contested while ranking third in just under 7% wards. The party fell to the forth place in just 3 wards. Majlis did somewhat under perform vis-à-vis TRS with 11 of their 60 contestants placed third or fourth.
NDA acquitted itself reasonably well (fourth place or lower in 25 wards) compared to Congress that bagged the dubious “honor” in as many as 57 wards.
The TRS victory can be termed truly historic from all the investigated angles. The party scored an emphatic victory in all areas except those dominated by Majlis and acquitted itself commendably even in the 44 wards won by Majlis. It is not easy to dismiss the phrase “Tsunami of votes” used by some observers out of hand. Perhaps this is an exaggeration but not really much of it.
Majlis did exceptionally well but this appears to be a habit with them. Predictably well just about sums up their performance!
The much heralded NDA received a drubbing they will not forget so easily. The best its leadership can claim is that they did not perform as pathetically as the Congress. Given that they were virtually claiming to be the front-runner as recently as a couple of months ago, this does not wash so well.
Congress appears to have hit its nadir in the city. Some dressing down, eh folks!
In 50 over cricket terms, TRS led the way in batting, bowling, fielding & running between the wickets. They dominated the match at all stages & all round the ground. The only serious challenge was from a sole star opposition batsman (Majlis) who hit a few boundaries and a sole opposition bowler (Majlis again) who bowled a few maiden overs & took a few wickets. NDA representatives behaved like players with formidable reputations that failed to live up to the crowd expectations. Congress was somewhere between the twelfth man & a spectator.
Drilling down further and more detailed analysis will not change the above conclusions. I will continue analyzing swing factors, vote changes as well as TDP-BJP dynamics. I will also touch a little on the qualitative and/or political angles about the how & why of the results.
Methodology & challenges
In the first part of this report, I analyzed the GHMC results at a high level. I trust this answered the first question “what is the true scope of this victory?” adequately. However answering, or even attempting to answer, the others requires a more detailed analysis. This throws up several challenges that I outline together with the methods I adopted to bridge the gaps.
There are two proximate results that are of interest in the present context:
• 2009 GHMC elections
• Assembly elections in 2014
When GHMC was constituted in 2007 or sometime shortly thereafter a delimitation exercise was conducted to delineate ward boundaries. The election commission conducted a nation-wide delimitation exercise in the period leading to the 2014 general elections. The 2014 exercise resulted in several wards crossing assembly boundaries.
A fresh delimitation initiative was taken up in the period leading towards the current GHMC elections. Among others, this corrected the assembly-ward overlap issue. Unfortunately this also means the 2016 wards no longer correspond to those in 2009 even if the names are the same in several cases.
As per usual practice the election commission supplementary final rolls just before the election in all the three cases. In addition a nation-wide enrollment drive was conducted a few months before the 2014 general elections.
There is an additional dimension to the above “apples to apples” mismatch. Though 20 of the 24 assembly constituencies are fully within GHMC limits, the other four do not. While Secunderabad Cantonment (# 71) is fully urban, parts of the constituency fall under the limits of Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB). Three other constituencies (# 40 Patancheru, # 50 Maheshwaram and # 51 Rajendranagar) are partially rural.
The ward level mismatch between the 2009 & 2016 elections does not affect us seriously. So much water has flown down the Musi that a granular comparison does not yield any benefit even had there been a 1:1 correspondence.
The comparison between 2014 & 2016 can however not be dismissed in like vein. Unfortunately no matrix, map or any other information linking wards with assembly constituencies is available. I tried to resolve this by resorting to painstaking & rather unscientific process of assigning each ward to an assembly using knowledge, guesswork and some tricky balancing.
Even a pakka Hyderabadi like me is unlikely to be fully knowledgeable of the entire city’s topology. My subjective assessment of the “confidence level” of this exercise is around 90%.
Regarding the four “partial” assembly constituencies, I assumed the vote preference is evenly distributed in each assembly constituency. This is a reasonable assumption in my opinion.
Turning now to the party landscape across the three elections, one finds the following issues:
- TDP & BJP contested the 2009 elections separately. I assumed the vote transfer would have been total had they contested under the NDA umbrella.
- TRS did not contest the 2009 elections. I assumed they would have drawn a blank or near blank had they done so.
- The now defunct Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) did quite well in 2009 while YCP put up a similar show in 2014. LSP did well both in 2009 & 2014. I am treating all these as a part of the OTH votes.
Finally what about party rebels contesting as independents? I was able to reconcile the status of the deposit retaining independents in 2014. While the major party rebels did quite well accounting for just over the 3% mark across Telangana, GHMC remained rebel free.
I did not attempt this reconciliation in the current elections. However even if the combined vote of the deposit retaining independents is transferred to any single party, the impact at hardly 1% is not particularly material.
This situation is fortunate for the analysts as deciding how to treat the votes polled by a rebel is extremely tricky. The first reaction is to credit the rebel’s votes to the “parent party”. This may not be a valid assumption in the case of strong individuals.
I do not consider the fact that the turnout was different in the three elections as a serious deterrent. This is always the case in every situation. After all one is comparing vote shares when determining vote swing & change. The next time you come across some one reporting “x% of party A voters shifted away in this election” take it with a pinch of salt! This may sound interesting but the reality is “the percentage of votes polled by party A in this election is x% less than the previous one”.
Impact on assembly & Loksabha constituencies
What will happen if assembly & Loksabha elections are held today? Let us assume for the moment NDA stays intact and the voters act exactly as they did in the GHMC elections.
TRS is sitting pretty in the three assemblies it won in 2014 with no other party coming even remotely close. It will win all three constituencies hands down.
NDA is trailing badly in 4 of the 5 constituencies BJP won in 2014. The only exception is Goshamahal (# 65) where it has a slender 692 votes (0.6%) lead over TRS. This can be offset if the NDA breaks up, TRS mops up a few votes from the Congress’s 13.9% share or some of the Majlis’s 21.2% voters resort to tactical voting. It may be noted that Majlis is no stranger to tactical voting. I will put this assembly down as too close to call.
NDA performance in all the nine assemblies that returned TDP nominees in 2014 is even more pathetic. It does not come close in even a single assembly.
Majlis is way ahead in 4 of the 7 constituencies it won in 2014. Karwan (# 64) looks trickier with its lead over TRS at a somewhat lower 5.5%. TRS can try to turn the tables by attracting some of the NDA (14.0%) and/or Congress (3.4%) votes. The demographics of the constituencies are such that Majlis would find it difficult to garner many more votes. In view of the situation, I will classify this seat as too close to call.
The situation in Nampalli (#63) is opposite that of Karwan as TRS enjoys an identical 5.5% lead over Majlis. Given more or less identical demographic composition, I will call this constituency for TRS.
Malakpet (# 58) falls in an altogether different category as TRS is at a comfortable 42.9% share outscoring Majlis & NDA together. Congress is in a bad shape with just 7.4% share with the result that a Congress-Majlis tie-up is not feasible. As this would have been the only serious challenge to TRS, we can safely call this assembly in favor of TRS.
Summarizing, I would expect TRS to win 18 assemblies, Majlis to retain four with the other two constituencies too close to call. While Congress would draw a blank yet again, TDP will provide them company in the “duck club”. BJP too could join them unless they get their act together.
What about the Loksabha? Medak with just one assembly seat is not of much interest to us. Let us examine the situation in 4 constituencies.
Majlis will retain Hyderabad comfortably with a 43.2% vote share in spite of the setback in Malakpet and tougher conditions in Karwan. TRS can upset the applecart by allying with the NDA: a situation that is extremely unlikely if not downright possible!
TRS won only in Chevella constituency in 2014. While TDP won all the three GHMC assembly seats in Chevella, TRS turned the tables in the four rural constituencies. This time around TRS is sitting pretty in the urban segments outscoring the combined NDA & Congress votes. We can therefore safely predict TRS will retain this seat.
TRS lost Malkajgiri narrowly to TDP. It won Medchal, the only urban seat in Malkajgiri’s seven assemblies, by a comfortable margin. The present situation in the six GHMC assemblies shows TRS at an unbeatable 50.7% strength thus winning the seat handsomely.
BJP won Secunderabad in 2014 with a thumping 43.7% vote share. TRS will reverse the situation with an even more impressive 49.0%.
To summarize Majlis will retain its lone seat while TRS will sweep the other three. TDP & BJP will both end up losing the only Loksabha seats they hold in Telangana.
Here are the long awaited swing numbers:
TRS more than doubled its strength in just a couple of years. Majlis stood its ground in all the three elections. The other players came tumbling down election after election
There are however a couple of surprises:
- The swing away from Congress in 2016 is much better than the NDA’s
- Contrary to popular perception, NDA performance in 2014 is actually a letdown from 2009!
- Both Congress & NDA lost around a third of its 2009 votes in seven years
There is a general perception that the 5.2% 2014 YCP share shifted nearly enmasse to TRS this time. While this is plausible, the residual swing is quite impressive at 18.9%. The conclusion is inescapable: TRS took votes away from every rival with the exception of Majlis. Even the Majlis voters in the 90 wards it did not contest shifted to a good extent to the TRS.
In the immediate aftermath of the 2009 general elections, TDP argued that its defeat was due to PRP and LSP splitting the anti-Congress votes that they should have rightfully won. If we accept this contention, NDA vote fell by 10.2% in 2009-2014 and a further 14% in the next two years. This represents a 24.2% negative swing in seven years, much worse than the Congress’s 18% loss in the same period.
The relations between TDP & BJP parties have been quite inconsistent after the former was established in 1983. TDP led a broad coalition of non-Congress parties including the BJP in the 1984 Loksabha elections and the 1985 mid-term elections. The relationship broke up shortly afterwards.
TDP did occasionally ally with other parties after 1985 but stayed away from BJP preferring the groups styled “third front” or similar nomenclature. The situation changed in 1999 with the TDP joining the BJP led NDA. The alliance worked well till TDP broke away in the aftermath of the 2002 riots.
TDP rejoined NDA before the 2014 general elections. The alliance contested 119 seats in Telangana polling around 21.6% of the votes and winning 20 seats. Their performance in the 24 GHMC assembly constituencies was an impressive 14 seats and 35.4% vote share.
There was certain amount of resistance to the alliance with a few murmurs. Formal rebellion was somewhat muted and restricted to a couple of constituencies. TDP rebel Kancharla Bhupal Reddy stood second at Nalgonda (# 91) relegating the official nominee to the fifth position. BJP rebel Sankineni Venkateshwer Rao repeated the feat at the neighboring Suryapet (# 92). However GHMC remained rebel free in 2014 for all major parties.
The situation took a different turn this time around with the two parties fighting each other in 13 wards effectively limiting the NDA banner to 134 wards. The quantum of rift does not very look serious but can definitely not be dismissed as an outlier.
The following questions are pertinent in this context:
- Would the situation have improved had these fights been avoided?
- How did TDP & BJP fare against each other in these “friendly contests”?
The first question can be looked at assuming the votes of both the parties would have transferred to the leading party if the ground management was better. BJP candidate Dr. Kathyayani Burugula contesting at Ameerpet (ward # 98) not only did better than her TDP rival but may have won the ward in this scenario. The same goes for the Jeedimetla (ward # 132) TDP nominee Gaddam Swathika Reddy. In other words one can expect the tally of both parties to go up by a lone ward each at the TRS’s expense. While every additional ward won is nice to have, this does not hold any significant interest to any serious analyst.
Coming to the next question, TDP polled 50.3% of the combined vote in these wards. TDP fared better than BJP in 7 of the wards while BJP led the contest in the other 6. Both parties averaged around 3,850 votes across the “contest spectrum”. Nine TDP nominees and ten BJP candidates failed to cross the 5,000 threshold. In three wards their combined vote fell below this “no hoper” limit. The two parties secured the second position in four wards each.
At a first glance this appears to be an even draw. In reality TDP’s 50.3% performance is significantly lower than the 55.9% share of the NDA votes it obtained across the 150 wards.
Let us take a deeper look at see if any further clues emerge. The contests were limited to nine assembly constituencies. Two wards in two constituencies were won by non-NDA parties in in 2014: TDP led BJP in both these. Out of the 7 contests in the 5 constituencies won by TDP in 2014, BJP came ahead in 3 wards. BJP did even better in the 4 contests mapped to the two constituencies it won in the assembly elections by yielding only a single ward to TDP. In other words, TDP yielded ground to BJP in just under half of its own strongholds while wresting the initiative only in a quarter of BJP support areas.
Looking at the performance in the 134 wards where the alliance held firm, BJP polled an average 5,584 votes per ward nearly 16.7% than the TDP’s 4,789. Could this have been the result of better negotiation by the BJP? Unlikely in my opinion as TDP aspirants would have upped the ante even further if their party gave away favorable seats to its partners.
Was this because BJP supporters were not as enthusiastic for TDP as the other way round? Possibly but this signals more concerns for the alliance already troubled with simmering discontent. The other reason could be that the TDP lost much more ground than BJP. This can be tested in part by checking the assembly wise “average votes leadership” situation of the 134 “NDA wards”. The situation in four constituencies is undeterminable as BJP did not contest even a single ward in these under the NDA umbrella. BJP performed better than TDP in 12 of the other 20 constituencies.
In summary BJP appears have emerged as the third most preferred party in Hyderabad!
The other pointer is that 3 of the 4 wards won by BJP are in the Hindu pockets of the old city. Even though TRS made major gains in the old city, BJP is not much far behind in its traditional stronghold. BJP also did quite well in areas where Hindi speaking voters, its other traditional votebank, live.
I tried to the estimate the respective “real votes” of the two parties using two alternate scenarios. In the first scenario I assumed the 50.3%:49.7% ratio would hold across all wards except the 44 won by Majlis where BJP would win 80% of the combined vote actually polled. This resulted in the BJP walking away with 52.8% of the “NDA votes” and improving its overall vote share to 12.4% against TDP’s 11.1%.
The second scenario used the 80% share for BJP across seven assembly “old city” constituencies and the 50.3%:49.7% ratio in all others. BJP’s vote estimate jumps to 55.3% of the “NDA votes” with its overall vote share coming to 13.0%. TDP’s vote share falls to 10.5% i.e. just a notch above the Congress. While the situation may or may not be as alarming as this indicates, TDP must face the reality that its position in Hyderabad has been seriously dented.
As for the BJP, this is an improvement over the dismal 10.3% performance it put up in 2009. This will go up further when the votes that did not transfer to TDP return home. In addition they will also benefit by mopping up votes from the fast slipping Congress & TDP.
The evidence, though not substantive, indicates the saffron party may need to rethink the alliance strategy. The argument that the alliance dragged the BJP down is likely to find quite a few takers in the saffron ranks. This is clearly the BJP’s “must decide now” moment in Telangana. The fact that the BJP is contesting on its own in the upcoming Warangal & Khammam municipal polls indicates the top brass may be moving in this direction.
I have now answered most of the questions that I set out at the beginning. I will continue working on the reasons behind the verdict in the reminder of the report.