Explained: What Lokniti-CSDS Post-Poll Survey Tells Us About Recent Elections In Tamil Nadu And Bengal

Explained: What Lokniti-CSDS Post-Poll Survey Tells Us About Recent  Elections In Tamil Nadu And BengalMaps of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. 
Snapshot
  • The results also show that the leadership at the State level was a key factor in the election outcomes.

    The authors state that the voter in India is making a categorical distinction between voting in a national election and in a State election.

A special post-poll survey conducted by the Lokniti-CSDS for The Hindu shines light on the electoral trends in the states of Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

The survey concluded that the local issues were of paramount importance for the voters in the Assembly elections. All these States saw tough competition between two main parties, with the third position holder being left far behind.

The results also show that the leadership at the State level was a key factor in the election outcomes. The authors state that the voter in India is making a categorical distinction between voting in a national election and in a State election.

“Each of the surveyed States had specific local variables that swayed and determined the choices of the respondents. Clearly, the voters were determining their electoral choice for State and national elections distinctly,” The Hindu report said.

In the first part of this series, we had looked at the findings on Assam and Kerala. In this second and final part, we will summarise the findings of this survey for Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

Tamil Nadu

In the state, anti-incumbency was strong, given AIADMK had been in power for 10 years.

In response to the question on satisfaction with the government, 54 per cent said that they were somewhat or fully satisfied, and 41 per cent said that they were somewhat or fully dissatisfied. However, around 49 per cent the respondents said they did not want to give another chance to the ruling party even while 33 per cent held the opposite.

Since 2019, when the Tamil Nadu voters gave DMK a landslide victory with 38 out of the 39 parliament seats, AIADMK managed to recoup some ground. In the recent assembly elections, DMK won 159 seats while AIADMK captured 75 seats. The gap between the vote share of the two alliances was six percentage points.

The DMK’s performance remained strongest in the northern plains and Cauvery delta, while the AIADMK remained stronger in the western plains though no longer in the south.

Measures like the announcement of farmer loan waivers, gold loan waivers, extension of retirement age, 10.5 per cent separate reservation for Vanniyars, tactful alliance with PMK in northern Tamil Nadu helped AIADMK, but couldn’t avert a defeat.

Between them, AIADMK and DMK polled 85 per cent of the votes. The AMMK-led alliance and Kamal Haasan’s MNM-led alliance secured 6 per cent of the votes.

As is the case in Tamil Nadu, leadership factor was strong, yet less important than before. Development and linked issues seemed to be at the back of the mind of around 30 per cent respondents (43 per cent preferred not to reveal the key factor that influenced their voting decision).

The report states that while DMK alliance voters saw M K Stalin as the true inheritor of Karunanidhi’s legacy, Palaniswami did not get the same support of voters as representing the legacy of Jayalalithaa in the AIADMK alliance.

To AIADMK’s disadvantage, Jayalalithaa had not developed a successor unlike Karunanidhi, whose clear stance on his son’s succession kept the party heavyweights neatly aligned behind Stalin.

On the other hand, AIADMK saw tumultuous times after Jayalalithaa’s death. The party organisation is not as centralised and strong as DMK and its leaders were publicised as being unable to stand up to the partner, BJP, at the Centre.

The survey also shows that BJP continues to be unpopular in the state with its dislike cutting across caste, community, region, language and class lines.

When asked whether BJP was good or bad for Tamil Nadu’s social fabric, more than 40 per cent respondents from all regions except West Tamil Nadu (around 23 per cent) deemed it ‘bad’.

In West Tamil Nadu, around 47 per cent responded with “doesn’t make a difference either way”.

Forty-two per cent Tamil speakers and 32 per cent non-Tamil speakers also responded ‘bad’. Close to 40 per cent upper castes and OBCs also responded ‘bad’.

Among SCs, 48 per cent, and among STs, 28 per cent responded with ‘bad’. Forty-five per cent of DMK voters and 32 per cent of AIADMK voters also responded with ‘bad’.

The AIADMK-led alliance did far worse in the BJP-contested seats than seats contested by its other constituents.

It is clear that BJP has its task cut out if it wants to foray into Tamil Nadu politics. Grassroots work, with assiduous messaging and image-building is required. Tamil Nadu BJP will have to have strong, dedicated leaders with a keen understanding of the state’s politics.

That it has re-entered the State Assembly this time after being absent there for 20 years should be seen as an opening by the BJP.

West Bengal

The assembly elections brought back Mamata Banerjee to power with a thumping majority. BJP was limited to double-digits with 77 seats.

The survey shows that while BJP lost some of its Hindu vote since the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Muslims consolidated strongly behind TMC. In 2019, 32 per cent Hindus had voted for TMC, while 57 per cent had voted for BJP.

In 2021, 39 per cent voted for TMC while 50 per cent voted for BJP. Meanwhile, 70 per cent Muslims voted for TMC in 2019 elections and 75 per cent Muslims voted for the Mamata-led party in 2021 elections (around 7 per cent for BJP).

Muslims form a strong bloc in West Bengal politics as they are 30 per cent of the population.

However, overall, BJP was able to make inroads into the state politics. In the 2016 assembly elections, only 12 per cent Hindus and 6 per cent Muslims had voted for the party.

In 2021, as much as 50 per cent Hindus and 7 per cent Muslims voted for BJP.

Around 70 per cent Hindus in the state fully or somewhat agreed with the statement that the Mamata Banerjee government gives undue favours to Muslims. However, of those who fully agreed, 18 per cent voted for TMC (72 per cent for BJP) while 45 per cent of those who somewhat agreed voted for TMC (41 per cent for BJP).

Compare this to those who fully or somewhat disagreed with the statement. Of those who fully disagreed, 19 per cent voted for BJP (70 per cent for TMC) and only 25 per cent of those who somewhat disagreed voted for BJP (68 per cent for TMC).

The religious polarisation was mostly restricted to seats where the Muslim population was higher in proportion.

Women voters also seem to have consolidated behind Trinamool. Around 50 per cent women voted for Trinamool while only 37 per cent voted for BJP. Among men, 46 per cent voted for TMC and 40 per cent voted for BJP.

Among Adivasi and upper castes, the survey shows that a higher proportion of men voted for BJP than women. Among OBCs, 54 per cent women voted for BJP while 45 per cent men voted for BJP. Among Dalits, 57 per cent men and 53 per cent women voted for BJP. Over 50 per cent poor and lower class women voted for TMC.

Overall, 42 per cent upper castes voted for TMC, while 46 per cent for BJP. Among OBC, 36 per cent voted for TMC, while around 50 per cent voted for BJP. Around 35 per cent Dalits in the state voted for TMC, while 55 per cent voted for BJP.

Among Adivasis, over 42 per cent voted for TMC while 46 per cent voted for BJP.

It is clear that the consolidation of rural poor, backward classes, Dalits and Adivasis behind the BJP was not as strong as it was in 2019, and some of the vote went back to TMC.

However, this should not be construed as a failure of anti-Bhadralok subaltern Hindutva. In terms of upper caste votes, BJP is ahead of TMC by only 4 percentage points (this was 12 for 2019), but for OBCs, it is ahead by 13 percentage points (this was 41 for 2019).

For Dalits, BJP is ahead of TMC by around 20 percentage points.

Around 45 per cent of Hindu poor and 50 per cent of Hindu lower class voted for BJP, as opposed to 42 and 39 per cent respectively for TMC. Compare this to the poor in general. Over 50 per cent poor and lower class, in general, voted for TMC while around 30 per cent voted for BJP.

The latter has certainly gained ideological ground among the subalterns in the state.

The poorer consolidation as compared to 2019 should be seen in the light of the uncertainty by coronavirus pandemic that made people move towards the party which seems more welfarist as well as certain strategic mistakes of BJP (no strong local face, mocking Mamata Banerjee, weaker pitch for welfare, development and weaker party structure down to local levels as compared to TMC etc.)

Also read: Explained: What Post-Poll Survey By Lokniti-CSDS Tells Us About Recent Assembly Elections In Assam, Kerala

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