Lets begin this 2 PM update with the big news from the most important battleground state of Uttar Pradesh. Until post-noon, almost about 7 out of 10 Jats in the Braj bhoomi are voting for BJP. This is a continuation of what we witnessed in phase 1, but in greater numbers probably. So, all that talk of sugarcane and potato farmers being angry with the BJP government seems to be an exaggeration at best because a large proportion of the farmers here are Jats and their support for BJP has only grown in the last five years.
The second significant signal is again emanating from Uttar Pradesh. Yadavs, who admittedly are not as large in numbers here in the Braj as in other parts of the state, are almost voting at a rate of 1 out of 3 ratio in favor of the BJP. This is an important demographic trajectory as it clearly demonstrates the failure of vote-transfer between the two Mahagathbandhan allies. Such news spreads fast in electoral geographies, so expect a similar backlash from the BSP core voters, the Jatavs, in future phases where the Samajwadis will be the main contestants – in today’s poll 6 out of 8 MGB candidates were BSP contestants.
Then there are the “Other SC” voters and Lodhs, both these segments have also stood by BJP, especially the latter who have voted almost 80% in favor of the saffron party. Lodhs have always been core BJP voters since the days of Kalyan Singh and there is little surprise in their support to BJP, but what is significant is the strength of that support. All those segments of USHV who voted for BJP in 2014 in the range of 60-75% have now moved on a notch higher towards 70-85% range which will improve the overall performance of BJP by almost 2-3% from last time.
Odisha is once again throwing up stunning numbers. For instance, the Kandhamal seat which has been known to be a BJD stronghold is seeing a neck-to-neck battle between Achyuta Samanta and Kaharabela Swain. Maybe because of the fact that for the first time in a decade, the local Nayaagarh royal family is not part of the electoral battle, there is a more even playing field this time around. We still don’t have enough data from the Christian dominated areas like Daringibadi which may well tilt the balance in favour of BJD.
The denial of ticket to Subhash Chouhan in Baragarh may have affected BJP as BJD is showing a slight lead here whereas in Sundargarh, BJP is leading and may end up retaining this seat. In Balangir too, Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo may prove to be third time lucky in 2019 as she lost narrowly to her brother in law twice in 2009 and 2014.
In Bengal, as of afternoon, BJP is leading in two seats while TMC is slightly ahead in one. The problem with Bengal is that we will not know fully as to which way the wind may eventually blow until we have full day’s data in the evening – MAPi also doesn’t track this in real-time as most of our fieldwork here doesn’t have the tech backbone for real-time data transmission. Plus, of course, the x factor of Bengal always will be the capacity of ruling TMC to intimidate voters and “capture” booths using uniquely Bengali ways.
Karnataka, initially showed Congress-JDS alliance being ahead, but as the day wore on, BJP began to solidify its structure. In 2014, BJP had 6 seats while the Congress-JDS alliance the remaining 8. As things stand till afternoon, BJP is ahead in 7 seats, while the state ruling alliance is ahead in 5 seats. The remaining two seats of Udupi-Chikmagalur and Kolar are both in toss-up category surprisingly, especially the former because it is considered as an out and out saffron stronghold. We must stress here though that the trends we have captured till now are quite preliminary in nature and we should get a much better picture by evening.
In the neighboring Maharashtra, this round of polling is going on in BJP strongholds, so the NDA is doing along expected lines. We will have more numbers and better analysis on Maharashtra and Bihar by evening as MAPi – Micro Analytical Projections (INTELLIGENCE) – only tracks these states partially with real-time feeds.
Tamil Nadu may prove to be the Achilles heel of BJP this time around. BJP has managed to build a strong alliance with AIADMK, PMK and DMDK which should together represent nearly 60% of the caste-ethnic groups of the state but somehow the arithmetic is not working as per the calculus, at least till post-noon today.
The AIADMK alliance is getting battered in the Cauvery basin and greater Chennai region while it is putting up a fight in the Vanniyar belt and south, although DMK alliance still leads in both these regions. It is only in the Kongu belt that the AIADMK is able to put up strong performance. Amma’s absence is hurting the ruling party quite significantly and also the presence of TTV Dinakaran of AMMK is denting its baseline.
How these trends hold on till late evening will really be the test of day two of 2019 elections. BJP is doing fairly well in its strongholds of UP, Bihar, Maharashtra and other states, even as it is dramatically improving upon its position in Bengal and Odisha. But what keeps worrying BJP is the south. Andhra and Telangana have already been disastrous for the saffron party, so all hope now is on Karnataka and some bits and pieces in Tamil Nadu.