In the concluding part of the series, I would attempt to project the number of seats each alliance is expected to win and who would be able to form the government in Bihar.
A recap of the four part series so far:
Opinion polls predict a close contest and different winners. The common theme is that vote share of both the alliances – NDA and Janata – is expected to be in the range of 40%-43%.
I don’t have the resources to conduct an opinion poll but have many volunteers on ground who keep providing feedback. The general feedback is a tight fight, however, if any of the alliances manage to get >=45% vote share, then there will be a sweep 150+ seats.
The hypothesis of my seat projections is the vote share alliances managed to get in the last assembly polls in 2010 and in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls in May 2014 (assembly segment wise data is available).
In 2010, BJP fought the elections in alliance with JDU (Nitish). This time it is fighting with Paswan (who was with Lalu in 2010), Kushwaha and Manjhi (who have left JDU and formed their own parties). In 2010, a portion of the votes which BJP got in seats it fought, belonged to JDU cadre. Loss of JDU votes (22% vote share in 2010 AE / 16% in 2014 LS) in these seats is expected to be compensated by Paswan, Kushwaha and Manjhi votes (holding the keys to 24% of population).
Similarly, loss of BJP votes in seats which JDU fought in 2010 (16% vote share in 2010 AE / 30% in 2014 LS) is expected to be compensated by Lalu and Congress votes (29% in 2014 LS).
Safe seats (vote share >45%)
45% vote share in any election (be it bi-polar) is expected to be enough for winning the seat. In bye-polls held in 10 seats after Lok Sabha polls in May 2014, when the Janata alliance was first tested (when NItish, Lalu, Sonia all came together for their survival & revival), only in 1 seat, did a party getting >45% votes ended up on the losing side (BJP in Rajnagar).
In 2010 assembly elections, BJP won 91 seats in alliance with JDU. In 25 of these seats, its vote share was >45%. These are safe seats for BJP and it is expected to bag the same this time as well. In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, BJP led alliance was leading in 172 seats. In 65 of these seats its vote share was >45%. Taking into account both these elections, there are 79 seats where NDA candidates got >45% votes in 2010 assembly polls and 2014 Lok Sabha polls (eliminating common seats). BJP is expected to win majority of these seats in 2015.
Similarly JDU won 36 seats where it recorded vote share of >45% in 2010 assembly polls. In 2014 Lok Sabha polls JDU was leading in 5 constituencies where it bagged >45% vote share. RJD and Congress similarly won in 2010 and were leading in 2014 Lok Sabha elections in 17 seats. The grand Janata alliance thus has in its account 58 seats (including seats from where Tariq Anwar of NCP won) with vote share of >45% eliminating common seats. These are relatively safe seats for the alliance.
So in effect, 137 seats put together are safe seats for either of the alliances.
Relatively safe seats (vote share 40-45%)
Then comes seats wherein alliances have got vote share in the range of 40%-45%. On these seats both alliances will need to sweat hard to retain them. On some they may win, on some they may lose. Since there are two principal players, one party’s loss is another party’s gain. This segment is crucial as the party which dents more into other alliance seats while holding onto the seats it has won in 2010 / 2014 will end up winning the elections.
NDA got 40-45% vote share in 60 seats in 2010 assembly polls and 2014 Lok Sabha polls eliminating the common seats. Janata alliance on the other hand recorded similar vote share in 50 seats. In 11 of these seats both alliances had vote share in the range of 40-45%. Eliminating these seats, NDA got 40-45% vote share in 49 and Janata in 39 seats. On 11 seats the fight is expected to be very close.
Politicalbaaba Estimates for 2015
Taking into account the 40-45% and >45% vote share seats, NDA is expected to win 123-147 seats and Janata alliance 89-102 seats. Others are expected to win 7-18 seats. I have given a bigger range to take into account the momentum which is evident on the ground and slowly building in favour of NDA (also evidenced in the opinion polls).
Chart: Expected seats of various alliances
So it’s expected to range from a simple majority to a comfortable win for NDA depending upon the wave and ultimate vote share. A vote share of close to 45% may take the tally close to 150 mark. A more benign vote share of 42% overall may result in NDA just scarping through.
NDA has been able to create a social coalition of upper castes, banias, MBCs, Dalits and Mahadalits. This together with the development push of Modi at the center is expected to pay rich dividends and bring another important state in its fold.