What BJP’s victories can teach other parties

If talking about the results of yesterday’s assembly elections, someone comes and tells you that BJP has the ‘majority’ to rule in the state of Assam, give them a good verbal lashing. Because they have not. BJP won 60 seats in Assam and will form a government in the state.

Congress won only 26 seats. However, if you look at the vote share, Congress actually has a majority with 31.0% votes and BJP is second with 29.5%. Despite having one and a half percent less votes in the state, BJP has more than double the seats compared to Congress.

These statistics will be used by Congress lovers to show how they have not really lost. Like there is another statistics that is being used by Congress lovers that if you add up the tally in all the states, Congress has won 115 seats and BJP only 64. First of all, both these statistics are misleading. Because if you really have to look at it, you must look at how BJP which did not even have a single digit percentage share of votes in the last assembly elections in Assam, could go on and win 300% more votes this time around.

Even in the other states, the share and percentage of votes of BJP have risen considerably. From a party strong in a few states in the North and West, BJP has risen to truly become a national party, something which only the Congress and to some extent the Left combined could claim till recently. The win in Assam is an entry for the entire Northeast for the party and one shouldn’t forget J&K either where the BJP made massive inroads, just like in Assam.

All these to the efficiency of the BJP cadres, something which the other parties do not want to acknowledge. Secondly, if the Congress won 115 seats in all the states and yet failed to capture any state, it clearly shows that not only has Congress lost the elections, there’s a bigger accusation that sticks to them: that they are losers in the true sense of the word, both in terms of the number of votes and the logic of elections in India.

That they do not have the strength to stretch the last mile. What would you call a party that wins majority votes in a state, but is unable to win even half the seats that the winning party won? What would you call a party that has contested all the elections since independence, and have yet not figured out the simple way in which elections are contested in this nation? That percentage of votes neither matters, nor counts. Number of seats you win does. What the BJP has brought into the game, is the art of micromanagement.

Look at the Lok Sabha elections of 2014. It was the first party in decades to win an absolute majority. And this despite the BJP winning only 31% of the votes in the nation, the lowest vote share of any party to win a majority. With 31.34% votes in the country, the BJP won 282 seats, up by a whooping 166 seats from the last time while the congress with 20% vote won 44 seats, down almost the same number of seats – 162 – as the BJP was up. Here too, the numbers don’t add up.

With 12% less number of votes, congress should have got 12% number of seats than the BJP, which isn’t the case between 282 and 44. In the same vein, in Kerala yesterday, the CPM won 58 seats with 26.5% vote while the congress, despite being just a fraction lower than CPM with 23.7% votes, actually won less than half the seats with 22. Indeed, the percentage of votes won by the CPM umbrella LDF in 2011 was 45%, more than the 43.1% this time around. Yet, while LDF was not in power last time, this year, they are. It is not just the congress, but the other parties who can be accused of the same thing.

They have not learnt the art of micromanaging every single street, in every single locality, in every single constituency of each and every state. Yes, you will have the miracles like a Mamta and Jayalalitha, but if you do not micromanage your election and campaign, you don’t have a chance to win. To be very harsh, you don’t even deserve to win. Indeed, if you look at Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalitha, what they did on ground was exactly this.

Their cadres were on the street, in Bengal threatening people and in Tamil Nadu, distributing freebies. Everyone was covered, just like the BJP’s cadres covered every single nook and corner of the state of Assam while the state and national leadership applied the right kind of pressure at the right time and place to get those few hundred or thousand decisive votes which has led them to an unanimous victory.

Thus, the BJP forming a government in Assam despite having less seats that the Congress may seem miraculous to some, but in truth that is the form of election that exists in India and the one who wins is the one who knows how to manipulate it. BJP has mastered the game. It’s time the other parties wake up if they want to have a fighting chance the next time around.