Opinion: Opinion: BJP’s Mission 50% For Lok Sabha 2024 – Hype Or Substance?

The BJP has begun its preps for the 2024 general election with Prime Minister Narendra Modi setting a target of 50% vote share for the party. “With elections around the corner, party functionaries should be in mission mode to achieve the target of crossing 50 per cent vote share,” he is reported to have said.

Addressing a closed-door meeting of the party in Delhi on Friday, PM Modi urged national office bearers to work in “mission mode”, suggest news reports.

In 2019, the party recorded a 37.4% vote share, bagging 22.9 crore votes. On the seats it contested (435), BJP recorded 46.1% vote share. On 224 of the 303 seats it won in 2019, the party snagged more than 50% vote share.

In 12 states and union territories the party won more than 50% vote share – Jharkhand, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Himachal, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Goa etc.

Buoyed by the 3-0 win over the Congress in the Hindi heartland, the BJP is going for the kill, aiming for a record of sorts in 2024 election.

No party has ever achieved 50% vote share in Lok Sabha elections; the Congress achieved 48.1% in 1984 in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

Can BJP Achieve 50% Vote Share?

1. Increase vote share in seats it won in 2019

The party won 303 seats in 2019. There are 95 seats where it won all three polls – 2009, 2014, and 2019. It has won in two of three in 167 seats. So, there are 262 seats that can be classified as safe or relatively safe for the BJP.

The party can increase its vote share on these seats by better turnout management. Getting out more of its supporters to vote and thus winning these seats by even bigger margins. This strategy has been used by the BJP in Gujarat effectively in past elections. However, this may not result in any additional seats for the party.

2. Increase vote share in seats where it lost in 2019

The BJP was runner up on 72 seats and finished 3rd on 31 seats. The party hopes to increase its vote share on these seats through better turnout management, local alliances and a pro-incumbency vote because of the 10 years of work done by the Modi government. This may or may not result in an additional number of seats for the party.

3. Contest higher number of seats

The BJP will need to contest a higher number of seats than 2019 due to the exodus of allies. In the past five years, the Shiv Sena, Akali Dal, Janata Dal (United) and AIADMK have left the NDA. The party is most likely to contest more seats in Bihar, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Punjab.

This would then add to the total votes of the BJP and its vote share. The party could even win a few more seats in Bihar and Maharashtra, while Tamil Nadu and Punjab look difficult at this moment.

Along with these strategies, the party is likely to focus on Labharthis (beneficiaries), women and first time voters.

PM Modi has developed a loyal labharthi vote bank. According to a paper by Eshwaran Sreedharan for the 2019 elections, nine key welfare programmes have benefited 13 to 34% of respondents/voters, with a large proportion crediting the central government, and hence the BJP or Modi.

The ruling party hopes even more beneficiaries will back Modi in 2024 in order to keep receiving the benefit of these schemes. To that end, extending free ration to 80 crore people for the next five years could prove to be handy.

Over the years, women have emerged as an important vote bloc; an increase in awareness and literacy levels has largely led women to make independent voting decisions. Increasingly, women have also been turning out in larger numbers than men and are believed to be voting cutting across caste and class lines.

During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the voting percentage of women was higher than that of men by 0.17 per cent. In 2019, 46% women backed the NDA. In the Madhya Pradesh state election recently, 50% women backed the BJP, according to the Axis My India survey, and the party hopes its women-focused schemes, along with the women’s reservation bill, will bring it more support.

In 2019, there were 1.5 crore first time voters, which amounts to around 2% of the total voter base. In 2024, the total voting population is expected to be anywhere between 95 and 100 crore, meaning 2 crore first time voters. PM Modi, through his “pariksha pe charcha” programmes, has been interacting with this vote group. He realised early the role these students would play in future elections. The party has launched specific campaigns on social media to tap these voters.

Is the target of 50% vote share achievable? While it may appear to be impossible as of now, it is not improbable, given the loss of confidence in the opposition. The BJP, however, has to be wary of complacency.

(Amitabh Tiwari is a political strategist and commentator. In his earlier avatar, he was a corporate and investment banker.)

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.

Enable Notifications OK No thanks