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Higher voter turnout in MP might not lead to a win for the Congress!
My friend from Bangalore R Malliah asked me on 28th November 2018, the day of voting in MP as to who would win the election. I answered him that as per reports it's a close contest. He still insisted upon me to name the party which is likely to win. Although I couldn't take any name, I said that as per reports it's advantage Congress.

Then, another friend demanded to know whether Congress is wining hands down. My answer was again whichever party wins it will win by a landslide margin because that's what happens when there are just two parties and a close contest.

Another friend then asked that since the voting percentage was high why shouldn't the BJP win? He reminded me of my logic of poor turnout resulting in BJP's by-election losses. Then, another friend, who is pro-Congress, asked why the Congress cannot win since the voter turnout was a record 75% for MP, the highest since the independence of India.

The point is that neither I am an astrologer nor a person who can see the future. I just analyse available data and try to see the bigger picture observing things unbiased to deduce a logical conclusion. Yes, I have always said that poor turnout in by-elections resulted in losses for the BJP. I have proved that in so many articles on this platform. However, there is a huge difference between by-elections and general elections. There's a difference between assembly elections and Parliamentary elections. You can't analyse all in one set of rules because all these have separate dynamism and effects.

Yes, higher voter turn-out in assembly elections normally goes against the incumbent government. It's because people when angry usually come out in big numbers to vote out the ruling party. When people are not very angry or somehow satisfied with the incumbent government, then they either reluctantly come to voting booth casting in favour of incumbent government or don't come to vote at all.

Thus, higher voter turnout going against incumbent government is universally established fact. However, it's not 100 per cent true because there are exceptions. For example, the voter turnout in Odisha in 2014 was approximately 80 per cent which is a record since independence yet the incumbent ruling party did exceedingly well in both assembly and Parliamentary election achieving a bigger mandate.

Then MP's history says it has nothing with voter turn outs whether the incumbent goes or stays. This is a typical state where you can find some excuses (or say some cooked up logic) to justify the results. Let's go to the numbers to understand this. Let me analyze from the year 1990 onwards.

In 1990, the voter turnout was 54.19 per cent compared to the turnout of 49.83 per cent. Higher turnout resulted in defeat of incumbent government and the BJP government came to power. In 1993, the voter turnout was 60.52 per cent again a higher turnout resulting the defeat of incumbent BJP government and Congress government came to power. That was the time when Digvijay Singh became Chief Minister. In 1998, the voter turnout was 60.22 per cent, slightly less than that of the previous election and the Congress government survived. In 2003, the voter turnout was 67.25 per cent, higher than the previous election and the incumbent Congress government lost the election. Uma Bharati-led BJP came in to power. Until this time, the higher voter turnout leading to loss of incumbent party and lesser or at par voter turnout results in retaining power by the incumbent government.

Things started changing after 2008 assembly election. The voter turnout was 69.28 per cent, which was 2.03 per cent higher than 2003, yet incumbent BJP government led by Shivraj Singh Chouhan retained the power although it lost 30 seats (in 2003 BJP got 173 seats and in 2008 it got 143 seats). The excuse given that because Uma Bharati's party 'Bharatiya Jan Shakti' too contested, the BJP retained power. Uma Bharati was expelled from the BJP in December 2005.

The excuse is ridiculous because Uma Bharati's party got 4.71 per cent vote share and those are definitely BJP's vote share. Congress just got 32.39 per cent and that's because groupism among Congress leaders else a split of BJP voters should have made Congress winner.

Then came the 2013 assembly election. The voter turnout in this election was 72.07 per cent, 2.79 per cent more than that of 2008, yet Shivraj Singh's government not only retained power but also got additional 22 seats. (In 2013 BJP got 165 seats compared to143 seats in 2008). Uma Bharati returned to the BJP in 2011. The excuse given was that it was due to Narendra Modi's campaign. Fact was that Shivraj Singh was seen as a rival to Modi during 2013 assembly election. The BJP got 44.88 per cent vote share where as Congress got just 36.38 per cent vote share, a marginal increase. The fact remained that by that time the UPA at the Centre had became very un-popular and in MP, Congress leaders remained un-united.

Thus, when one asks whether the 3 per cent higher voter turnout in 2018 has anything to do with the possible result, I want to say that it's difficult to say as the voter turnout has given contrary results consistently in MP for last two elections and so the prediction of current election is difficult.

Then, another point must be remembered that wherever BJP is a strong force. You can easily say that a higher turn-out can out-vote a non-BJP government but may not out-vote an incumbent BJP government. The reason is very simple. The BJP has its committed cadres in booth level and as it is said that elections are won or lost in polling booths only. The Congress tried to match the BJP in booth management. If they are able to match the BJP's poll management to even 90 per cent then there will be a Congress government in MP else Shivraj is going to retain the power although the mandate would be bit smaller than that of 2013.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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