Congress-NCP needs more than arithmetic to better its standing


The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ally Shiv Sena won 41 out of the 48 seats in Maharashtra in the 2014 elections. Notwithstanding a lot of tension since, including contesting the 2014 assembly elections separately, the two parties have decided to continue their alliance for the 2019 elections. The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to have come back into an alliance after parting ways during the assembly elections.

The Congress-NCP have contested all general and assembly elections in Maharashtra together since 2004, except the October 2014 assembly election. In the five elections, the two parties contested together, their combined vote share has declined in every successive election: from 42% in the 2004 general election to 34% in the 2014 general election (See Chart 1).

While this may indicate that the alliance has been losing ground in the state, the vote share figures hide behind them the ability of the alliance to win seats even with a lower vote share. Its seat share to vote share ratio ( an indicator of a party’s ability to convert popular support into seats) continuously increased in four elections held between 2004 and 2009. It dropped only in the 2014 general elections (see Chart 2).

Another set of figures shows that the Congress-NCP alliance has become more vulnerable over time in terms of winning seats. Its median margin of victory has been on a decline: it was higher than the BJP-Sena alliance in the two elections in 2004, very close to it in the two elections in 2009 and nearly five times less than it in the 2014 general elections. This means the alliance has increasingly been unable to manage a huge lead over its opponents even in the seats it wins

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