Hridayapath Election Dispatches: A Post-Mortem

Banuchandar Nagarajan

Jun 23, 2024, 11:43 AM | Updated Jun 24, 2024, 10:03 AM IST

Swarajya columnist's journey covering the 2024 election.
Swarajya columnist's journey covering the 2024 election.
  • The writer of Swarajya's Hridayapath election series assesses what he got right, which was a lot of it (and he revels in it), and what he got wrong.
  • Prologue

    In the run-up to the Lok Sabha election of 2024, Swarajya magazine had sent me on a 6,500 km-long journey from Delhi to Nagaland and back to chronicle the state of development and find out how the political winds were blowing.

    The May 2024 edition of the magazine was dedicated to the 14 dispatches I had filed from various places.

    In this article, I want to do a post-mortem analysis of how the estimates have fared. (I will perhaps do another one on what could have gone wrong). It seems like your favourite writer has had a pretty remarkable hit rate.

    Our analysis, borne out of sincere conversations with people, seems to have done much better than the "exit pollsters" (not that they are the standard now).

    A couple of points before we get to the meat of the issue: The route taken in Hridayapath traversed Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, tugging along the border with Nepal, and into the North East.

    The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won most of the seats that fell in this route, prompting a reader to comment that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) should declare this writer as their lucky mascot and send him on an actual Bharat Jodo Yatra!

    I had spent not more than half a day in each constituency. I take credit for the results of four seats where I had predicted close contests and the margins were low. When the margin was terribly bad, like Azamgarh, I have accepted failure. (Please note that I have not abused that option).

    Of the 38 constituencies from which I have chronicled stories (in at least 12 more constituencies, I had not asked people for their political choices), I failed in eight, resulting in a pretty handsome strike rate of 79 per cent.

    Summary Of The Results

    Extracts from the Hridayapath dispatches (14 plus one centred on women) juxtaposed with the results are as follows:

    Uttar Pradesh


    I chat with a few young people about politics. They like the new Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate, Ruchi Veera, the former Bijnor MLA... The BJP has fielded Sarvesh Kumar Singh, who won in 2014 but lost to (S T) Hasan in 2019. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has fielded Irfan Saifi, which will help the BJP by splitting the Muslim vote.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 1


    The SP-BSP combine in 2019 was unable to take on the BJP. So, Lodhi sees as easy win.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 1


    He was positive about Jitin Prasada also. He says the opposition is irrelevant (Bhagwat Saran Gangwar is the SP candidate). My interviewee said that it did not matter who the candidate was, as a Modi-Yogi wave has gripped all of UP.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 1


    Now, we can see why it is no surprise that Modi wins even in poor areas. The development momentum is on and it is irreversible.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 2


    BJP has fielded Saket Mishra from this seat. He is expected to sail through.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 2


    We ended by chatting about the neighbouring Kaiserganj, the fortress of the strongman, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. The BJP is yet to announce the candidate from there, but it seems that the many educational and other institutions he has helped create will help him win.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 2


    Bareilly is synonymous with Santosh Gangwar, a MoS in PM Modi's council of ministers. He has been the MP for 30 of last 35 years. Due to age factor, he has been replaced with Chattrapal Gangwar this time.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 3

    Kheri, Dhaurahra

    There are two parliamentary constituencies that are part of the Lakhimpur Kheri district — Kheri and Dhaurehra. Surprisingly, both of these constituencies produced important BJP leaders viz. Ajay Mishra Teni from Kheri and Rekha Verma from Dhaurehra... Both are expected to sail through in 2024.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 3


    Domariyaganj has been represented in Parliament by the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Jagdambika Pal for a long time... He is expected to sail through this time...
    Hridayapath, Dispatch on Nari Shakti


    Anand Nagar in Maharajganj seemed to be a good place to check it. It is represented by Pankaj Choudhary, who is the Minister of State for Finance. He polled more than 7 lakh votes last time.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 2


    I spoke with an elderly couple about the chances of BJP. They smiled at me and almost said, "Dude! Ravi Kishan is expected to win big again."
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 3

    Kushi Nagar

    Vinay (sic) Dubey, the sitting MP has got the ticket again and he is expected to win handsomely.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 3


    ...when Mulayam Singh Yadav was chief minister, he made sure that Azamgarh was taken care of. The town had a 24x7 power supply even when other parts of UP were reeling under power cuts... This time there will (be) a tough fight between Dinesh Lal Yadav and Dharmendra Yadav.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 14


    They say that BJP will win easily — "Sab Modi ko denge!" It is an upper-caste dominated constituency with Brahmins and Thakurs forming more than 30 per cent of the population.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 13


    He says that any horse will win from a BJP ticket here. His complaint against the BJP was that the party always fields outsiders in Kanpur.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 13


    The petrol station attender at Kannauj dismissed my question on his voting preference with a "SP, bas!" Chill, dude!
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 14


    ...he says that Dimple Yadav will win even if she doesn't campaign.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 14


    Paschim Champaran

    The sitting Member of Parliament (MP) is the BJP's Sanjay Jaiswal... He comes from the baniya community. The BJP's social engineering ensures that the substantial baniya population in Tirhut division is appeased.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 4


    I took a sample poll of the nine people in the conversation. After such a heated debate, eight out of the nine said that they were going to vote for Modi. I burst out laughing, wondering aloud on why they had such a heated debate.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 4


    Perhaps Ajay Singh Yadav will be helpful in luring Yadavs of Bihar into the BJP fold. Locals say that the educated Yadavs have started moving on from the RJD and voting based on economic aspirations.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 5


    In our stop over at a petrol station, the assistant said that he was happy that the RJD candidate was standing this time and that he would vote for Lalu Prasad Yadav's party.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 5


    Araria is exhibit A for the synergies of the BJP-JDU-LJP combine that trumps the Muslim-Yadav combination.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 5


    She had always voted for the Congress and she would do the same in the upcoming elections as well. But, she did not feel confident about Congress's chances. People were looking positively at All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and even Mujahid Alam of the Janata Dal (United).
    Hridayapath, Dispatch on Nari Shakti


    He is very candid in saying Begusarai is a Bhumihar constituency and hence Giriraj Singh will win again.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 11


    Given that the government machinery seems to be absent here, I ask him who he is going to vote for in the upcoming elections. He says, "Modi ko".
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 12
    He is going to vote for Lalu Yadav's daughter. He says that people vote jaat ke adhar par and all the vikas is secondary.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 12

    West Bengal


    The local MP Raju Bista is doing a good job. He has pushed for upgrading the airport and helped expand the medical college (part of PM Modi's health infrastructure drive).
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 6


    These people are fed up with the TMC. They say that TMC will definitely lose both in 2024 and 2026.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 6

    Cooch Behar

    Nisith Pramanik is in his late 30s. He is a former school teacher. A very exciting long-term prospect for the BJP. His mother is Koch-Rajbongshi. The BJP has found strong backing from this community.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 6



    Tenang says that Agatha is available to meet with general public and she has done a decent job. But, people are also looking at the Congress candidate, Saleng Sangma, with interest.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 7



    People say that Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra that passed through Kohima had struck a vibe with people.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 7



    He says that the Congress candidate Rakibul has a better chance this time as Badruddin has been around for 15 years and fatigue has set in.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 8


    But, in the neighbouring Barpeta, the Muslim-dominated pockets are split. The sitting Congress MP Abdul Khaleque wanted to contest from Dhubri. After being denied the ticket, he quit the party in protest...
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 8
    She has asked them to vote for Prime Minister Narendra Modi because "he is the best for the country". She advised me to vote for Modi too!
    Hridayapath, Dispatch on Nari Shakti


    I see Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) flags everywhere... The locals feel that the new BJP candidate, Amarsing Tisso, will sail through.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 9


    They contend that Tesa is going to win by a big margin, especially after the minority dominated assembly segments have gone to Nagaon.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 9


    In central Assam's former Nagaon and Kaliabor, the Muslim-dominated pockets are now consolidated within the Nagaon constituency... Former BJP MP, Rajen Gohain, who represented Nagaon for 20 years from 1999, protested that it will now become impossible for BJP to win Nagaon.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 8


    ...the poor but happy elderly couple running a small eatery in Mangaldoi. I asked the lady Rinku Bora on who she is going to vote for. "The BJP only, who else? All of Assam has become BJP".
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 10


    UPPL has named MLA, Joyanta Basumatarai, as the candidate. He is the frontrunner to win the elections.
    Hridayapath, Dispatch 10


    What had lulled me was that I got 12 out of the 18 in Uttar Pradesh correct. I had extrapolated this confidence by assuming that all of the state, barring the opposition strongholds, was in the BJP's pocket. I had not gotten the sense of anger, especially in lower Purvanchal.

    I was not too blindsided in Bihar and north Bengal, except perhaps for the shocker of Cooch Behar, where I thought Nisith Pramanik would win handsomely.

    I had called Assam 11-3 in Dispatch 8, where I discussed the delimitation in Assam. But the shock of Jorhat (Gaurav Gogoi's win) was cancelled by the surprise of Karimganj (the BJP's Kripanath Malla won by 18,000 votes).

    Nevertheless, the idea of this review is in genuine pursuit of truth (the process) and not to tom-tom one's successes. Our fellow citizens have taught us a lot of lessons and burned the screens through which we have been seeing the world. To understand this collective, our country, is a lifetime's work!

    Banuchandar is a political and public policy advisor. He posts at @Banu4Bharat.

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