Delhi Polls - Who will win?

The Delhi Assembly elections have created a lot of buzz in the social, print and electronic media. TV channels have been carrying debates on a daily basis, as to who will win the polls. Host of Opinion polls have come out, majority pointing to a AAP victory / lead. Media is abuzz about how Kiran Bedi appointment has backfired and Arvind Kejriwal still is the best choice for the Chief Minister among Delhi voters.
A synopsis of the various polls is given below:

Who will win Delhi? Well its a photo finish!

To remind the voters, the biggest sample size of the above polls is 3,600 out of total voting population of 1.23 crores. Even if you assume a turnout of 65 per cent (same as in May 2014 Lok Sabha), the sample size is less than 0.5 per cent of total voter base. Plus some polls have not covered all constituencies.

Moreover, if you re-collect the Opinion polls carried before 2013 December polls (it is difficult to get this on Internet), an average of three polls (India TV, India Today and Times Now), showed that BJP would get 30 seats, Congress would get 24 and AAP 11 seats (Source: Wikipedia). We all know what the result was - BJP+ 32, Congress 8 and AAP 28.

To solve the puzzle, we need to understand why polls went wrong in December 2013. The elections were very closely and keenly contested, polling time was extended and the victory margins were very thin.

· 20/70 seats were decided on a victory margin of <3 per cent. Out of these close seats, 9 each were won by BJP+ and AAP and 2 by Congress.

· On 19/70 seats the victory margin was less than 3,000 votes. Out of these close seats, 7 seats were won by BJP, 9 seats by AAP, 2 seats by Congress and 1 by JDU.

· 5 seats were won by a mere <1,000 vote difference; AAP won 4 of these and BJP+ 1.

Three per cent is the margin of error of vote share at State level in Opinion polls. Three per cent was the victory margin in 30 per cent seats in last Assembly polls.

After the Assembly polls, Lok Sabha elections were held in May 2014 and the BJP riding on Modi wave won all the 7 seats by big margins. It was national elections after all and people voted keeping in mind national issues and felt (like in other parts of India) that BJP was best suited. BJP was leading in 60 / 70 Assembly constituencies. Both the BJP and the AAP recorded increase in vote shares with Congress vote share declining substantially.

Who will win Delhi? Well its a photo finish!

Among others BSP had 5.4 per cent vote share in Assembly polls in 2014, comprising mostly Dalits. This has shifted majorly to AAP.

Source: Election Commission Website

What will happen in this Assembly elections? This is a million dollar question, which nobody has an answer to. Some pollsters seem to claim so, but track record says they are not always right.

Who will win Delhi? Well its a photo finish!

Source: National Election Studies Report

Caste factor is one of the key elements in solving this puzzle. At least six caste groups - Dalits, Muslims, Brahmins, Other OBCs, Rajputs and Punjabi Khatris account for two-third of the total voting population. These communities account for two-third of BJP's total vote share, 73 per cent of total vote share of AAP and 78 per cent of total vote share of Congress. The Congress lost substantial vote share among Muslims, Punjabi Khatris and Rajputs. BJP too lost vote share among Muslims and all of it went to AAP. Its increase in vote share from 12 per cent to 56 per cent among Muslim community was the major reason for its increase in overall vote share from 29.7 % to 33.1%.

In 10 seats where Muslim population is> 30 per cent, both the AAP and the BJP managed to lead in 3 additional Assembly segments in Lok Sabha compared to Assembly polls. The Congress (5) and JDU (1) lost their lead in all the 6 seats they won.

Who will win Delhi? Well its a photo finish!

It is evident that the main fight is between the AAP and the BJP. More and more Muslims could shift to AAP. Though there is not a significant under current of polarisation (barring a few untoward incidents), this could lead to Hindus (especially upper castes) also to vote en-bloc for the BJP like in Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha polls. Upper caste account for 40 per cent of total population of Delhi.

If all Muslim and Dalit votes of the Congress move to the AAP and all upper caste votes move to the BJP then their vote share will be identically same from these 6 communities at approximately 32 per cent. So fight is neck and neck.

Kiran Bedi's appointment as Chief Ministerial candidate could make or break BJP's chances. A lot has been written about why she was brought in and how this has already back-fired, I would mention here two key positives and negatives of this decision.

Women account for 47 per cent of the population of Delhi. Women safety / law & order is a big issue for this class of voters. Women have traditionally been not seen as a vote bank in India. Higher education, financial independence and desire to stop violence / discrimination among women have encouraged more and more women to come out and vote and assert their voice in elections and not go by what their father or spouse advice. This section of voters could be swayed to vote for Kiran Bedi. She is a Punjabi who account for a sizeable 7 per cent of the population.

Kiran Bedi's appointment has not been taken kindly by BJP cadre and supporters of top leaders. BJP has always been a divided house in Delhi, it had 3 CMs during its 1993-1998 tenure. Sushama Swaraj was made Chief Minister 40 days before elections, similar to Kiran Bedi and there is a threat of history repeating itself. Lawyers (60,000 families, so approximately 2 lakh voters, mostly seen as BJP supporters) are unhappy with Kiran Bedi’s inclusion and may vote against the party.

If we dissect the 2013 poll results into seats won by parties based on victory margins we get the following picture. The BJP is comfortably placed in 12 / 32 seats it won last time while the AAP is comfortably placed in 7 / 28 seats. Less than 10 per cent margin is huge and difficult to dislodge. Including the 5-10 per cent victory margin, the BJP is satisfactorily / comfortably placed in 19 / 32 seats while corresponding number for AAP is 18 / 28 seats. While the Congress won 6 seats by good margins in Assembly polls, it lost all these seats to AAP / BJP in Lok Sabha (based on leads in Assembly segments).

Seats with less than 3 per cent victory margins are poachable / difficult to retain. The seats marked in red is given along with runner up in last Assembly polls and are all up for grabs in these elections. These are 28 / 70 seats (40 per cent of total seats). Winners in these seats will determine who will form the Government or whether there will be a Hung Assembly.

Both the BJP and the AAP are vulnerable in 9 seats each. JDU MLA has joined Congress taking its tally to effectively 9. The Congress is vulnerable in all of these 9 seats. How many each of them retain and snatch away from other will determine who wins Delhi?

Will Opinion polls prove to be correct? Will Modi's rallies in last few days tilt the scale in favour of the BJP? Will Arvind Kejriwal be second time lucky. All this, we will come to know only on February 10. Mark my words every vote will count and its a photo finish!

Who will win Delhi? Well its a photo finish!

Check out our Elections Page to keep up with the latest news and updates from Delhi. This page also provides details of the historical performance of political parties in Delhi. We will also be providing live updates of the poll performances of key leaders and constituencies on 10th February.


Courtesy Niti Central


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