The Karnataka elections are a curtain raiser for the 2019 general elections in India.

Politics in this southern state has always been extremely complex. One example that stands out is the 2004 assembly term where the state saw three CM’s from all the three political parties! It was a perfect hung assembly where JD(S) was the ‘King’ maker as well as the ‘King’ breaker!

The power struggle in Karnataka has been like a game of musical chairs – the state has seen 22 CM’s in 14 Assemblies till date. No party has managed to retain the majority since 1978. Has congress performed exceptionally well this time around to achieve this elusive target? Sonia Gandhi has also broken her two-year long hiatus to campaign for this election!

Karnataka is convoluted in terms of its caste equations, influence of bordering states & water issues. Each of the six regions have a different voting pattern and party affiliation. In addition, the tripolar election makes it the most interesting election where even a 2% increase in vote share can be a game changer for any of the parties.


To arrive at the predictions, the model uses analytics on past elections voting data, social media analysis & 500+ interviews within the six regions in Karnataka.

BJP is fighting this election at the national level with most of its heavyweight leaders campaigning throughout the state. Congress meanwhile is focussing their energy on a mix of Rahul Gandhi campaign trails,  showcasing the good work done by Siddaramaiah & attacking BJP for getting back the corrupt Yeddyurappa & Reddy brothers.

In the fight between BJP & Congress, Kumaraswamy may well turn out to be the dark horse. JD(S) have distanced themselves from pulling down the opposition & are focussing on projecting themselves as the best regional party to rule Karnataka. Kumaraswamy Anna is pleading with the people to give them a chance to come to power. Because of BJP split in 2013, JD(S) got a better spread of votes across the entire state. That has given them the opportunity to strengthen their organization at the grassroot level in the last 5 years. Hence, they are anticipating to get more than the 40 seats that they won last time.

At the ground level, the people (and farmers) do see Anna as an honest & genuine person. Though JD(S) may not be able to get majority, people do want to see if they can influence the outcome in a way where Anna can be part of a coalition and be their CM. There is a silent undercurrent in favour of JD(S). It is riding on the ‘Regional Party’ image and ‘better of the two national parties’ and the people may want to make ‘Good Person’ Kumaraswamy a ‘King’. In that sense JD(S) may get a bigger swing of votes in their favour. Another interesting aspect coming out of the interviews is that there is a tacit understanding between BJP & JD(S) in terms of putting up weaker candidates in some of the constituencies against each other. That way those constituencies will have a bipolar fight and eat up the Congress vote share. At least this is what some of the local BJP/RSS workers have mentioned.


In my opinion, it would be incorrect for pollsters to say that based on the 2014 Lok Sabha victory in Karnataka, BJP would get majority votes. If you compare the 2014 Lok Sabha BJP vote share & the vote share of BJP in state elections held post 2014 – BJP has lost vote share in 14 out of the 20 states. The loss of vote share is ~23%. If the seat tally is considered, the loss is ~30%. BJP getting majority may not be that easy. We may, in these elections see the impact of demonetization & GST.

As per my prediction, it will be a ‘HUNG’ assembly. BJP will emerge as the largest party (85 seats) followed closely by Congress (70 seats) & JD(S) (67 seats). If none of the parties get a majority, we may just about see BJP sneaking into power along with JD(S). They have mastered this art in the recent past!

We may just about get to see Kumaraswamy as the next Karnataka CM!


Karnataka Prediction

Let us see what the outcome is on May 15th!

Aneesh Laiwala

You can reach me @ aneesh@insights3D.com if you have any queries on the prediction.


Gujarat 2017 Assembly Election Prediction



Let us look at the prediction of the Gujarat Elections. This is the first election where Congress has projected the election as Rahul v/s Modi. They have directly challenged the growing ‘Modification’ across all the states since 2014.

The HAJ factor (Hardik-Alpesh-Jignesh)

Congress knows that they cannot win alone in Gujarat. Hence, they have cleverly managed to garner support of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor & Jignesh Mevani in order to sway the Patels, OBCs & Dalits towards them. Congress is happy to give their organizational & financial support to these youth leaders in the hope that they will help the Congress to topple the 22-year-old BJP rule in the state.

A 3rd front has never succeeded in defeating BJP in the past elections in Gujarat. This was seen in 2012 when Kesubhai Patel broke away from BJP and floated his own party. His party could only win 2 seats.


BJP has been able to tackle anti-incumbency under Modi in Gujarat in past elections. For the voters in Gujarat, it has always been ‘Amaro Modi’ first & then the party. For them, both are separate entities. This has now changed at the ground level which in turn has led to recent losses to BJP in the local elections. However, this loss has been a blessing in disguise since it has given Amit Shah the required time to course correct and address key underlying issues before the assembly elections.

Gujarat has always been bi-polar in elections with Congress being in power from 1962 until 1995 and BJP since 1995 onwards. This shows that anti-incumbency may not be enough to topple the government.

The Numbers game

Gujarat elections are all about caste and voting arithmetic. BJP has mastered this art and has historically won many elections with a comfortable margin and proved the pollsters wrong.

BJP hopes that they can do the same this time round, notwithstanding the Patidar movement against them. The Patidar movement has divided Gujarat voters as Patidars v/s Non-Patidars.  Both set of voters are hoping that their vote will lead Congress or BJP to victory. The Patidars comprise approximately 14% of the voters. But that may not necessarily be a winning margin for Congress. Hardik only has the youth with him – especially the males. The older generation are hardcore Modi supporters and will vote for him only. After the sex-tape scandals, women voters may revert to BJP.

The 2012 election data tabulated below shows that in more than 50% of the seats, BJP’s winning margin is greater than 14% & in ~70% of seats, the margin is greater than 10%. For the Congress, 43% of its seats have been won on thin margins of up to 5%. These numbers suggest that for BJP to lose these elections, there would need to be high levels of anti-incumbency along with swing votes across 50% of their seats.

Election Margins

Business Community Votes

There may be some churn among the businessmen in the urban region, but not enough to swing majority of seats over to the Congress. The way a Gujarati psyche works is that they may criticize you a lot and raise a lot of issues they are facing. But that may not mean that they will not vote for you or desert you. They want a constructive dialogue on their issues and if there are steps taken to address the issues, they are fine with it. Hence on the GST front, steps taken by the government in easing the process and revising the rates would help in calming the business community. This business community has flourished in the last 22 years under BJP and they would in most probability give Modi one more year to address the issues because of demonetization & GST.

Gujarat Elections.jpg

Tribal Belt & OBCs

BJP in this election is looking to further consolidate within the Tribal belt. Last time they won only 10 out of total of 27 seats in the Tribal region. This year they have announced series of welfare measures and development schemes both by state and central government. In addition to this, the RSS has accelerated their work in the Adivasi areas since the last 1 year. Schools run by VHP within the Tribal region have doubled from 300 to 700 within a year. In addition, there is a micro level outreach program towards the Tribals by RSS to educate them more towards Hinduism.

Milk Cooperative Strategy

In this election, BJP has made use of milk cooperatives to garner votes. For the first time the BJP has control over all the milk cooperatives in Gujarat. 8% of electorate (3.6 million) are directly impacted by the milk industry. Farmers in Gujarat are getting the highest rate on milk sold to the cooperatives. Gujarat has 18,000 villages and each of the village has a ‘mandali or society’ which are involved in milk procurement and have close link with the cooperatives to give advice to the farmers. BJP, for the first time, has stated using this connection to directly campaign with the farmers on the good work done by them. Each of the ‘mandali’ chairperson has been entrusted to reach out to every voter at the booth level. They also get feedback on issues and pass it on to the Senior BJP machinery. This level of micro campaigning has been devised for the first time by Amit Shah in these elections.

Women vote bank

Women voter turnout has been increasing in each of the elections. At the national level, the difference in margin is only 2% with that of the male voter turnout. Earlier Congress was well entrenched with women voters. Since 2014 BJP has systematically taken steps to sway women voters towards them. For example, they have taken a clear stand on Triple Talaq & have recently also drafted a law on the same which they will introduce in the winter session of the parliament. The government is also working on the women reservation bill which will reserve 33% of seats in parliament to women. This bill has been pending since the last 2 decades. In addition, few women related schemes have also been implemented such as increasing the maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. There are 1.6 billion working women who will be benefited by this scheme.



As per my model, BJP will win 134 seats with vote share ~50% !

Gujarat Prediction

If BJP manages to better their 2012 numbers, there will be no stopping them in winning in 2019 !

Himachal Pradesh 2017 Assembly Election Prediction



India is set to witness back-to-back assembly elections in the coming two years. The results will define the mood of the country and will be a precursor of the 2019 LS elections. The election season starts with Himachal Pradesh & Gujarat. These elections are critical since they come after implementation of two major controversial reforms in India – Demonetization and GST rollout.

Himachal Pradesh has traditionally voted in favour of anti-incumbency and has seen power alternate between BJP & Congress governments. Congress is on the backfoot with the disproportionate assets case against their CM Virbhadra Singh. As per statistics, 40% of Himachal youth are under influence of drugs. Narendra Modi has slammed the Virbhadra government blaming it for “drug mafia raj” – ‘Udta Himachal’ flies in the face of CM.

Let us look at some interesting trends & issues across the four parliamentary constituencies of Himachal Pradesh.



The Gudiya rape and murder case is likely to impact Congress in a negative way. The sentiments of women and young voters are against Congress given the botched-up investigation by the police and High Court instructing CBI to take over the case.

The existing aging CM, Virbhadra Singh, knows that if he loses this election, he is not likely to again lead the state after 5 years. To ensure continuity of the dynastic rule in the state, he has given up his rural seat in Shimla to his debutant son Vikramaditya Singh. Despite this, Vikramaditya is facing a tough challenge from Pramod Sharma – who is protégé of Virbhadra Singh. Don’t be surprised if INC loses the Shimla Rural seat..

The seats in Shimla district are traditionally split between the BJP & Congress. No significant changes are expected this time round, but BJP has a slight advantage in view of their win in the civic polls in Shimla this year.


It is often said in the valley, that the road to Shimla goes through Kangra. This district is one of the most populous districts in Himachal and since the last four decades, the party that wins the majority seats in Kangra, is usually the one that forms the government. In 2012, the Congress won 10 out of 15 seats in Kangra. In 2007, BJP won 10 seats and they formed the government. In 2014 LS elections, Kangra had a 20% + increased turnout and 42% increase in winning margin for the BJP candidate compared to 2009 LS vote counts. Traditionally, Kangra has been the borough of BJP veteran Shanta Kumar. BJP is facing rebellion in Kangra district & victory will not come easy for them.


Hamirpur is the stronghold for BJP – especially of CM candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal. His son Anurag Thakur is a 3rd time MP from this district. BJP’s strategy in naming Dhumal as CM candidate should result in BJP winning majority of seats from here. Hamirpur has a higher proportion of women voters as many of the men are enrolled in the armed forces. The votes of armed forces may also swing towards BJP. Even in the 2012 assembly elections which BJP had lost, it had won 10 of the 17 seats from Hamirpur. This district is poised to go to the BJP this time also.


This is one of the weakest districts for the BJP. In the 2014 LS elections, even though BJP won all the 4 LS seats, the voter turnout was much lower than the 20% increase across other districts. The margin of victory was also much less than the previous 2009 LS elections. BJP seems to have pulled out a masterstroke by wooing Anil Sharma, the rural development minister from the Congress cabinet over to BJP. He has been given the Mandi seat which is the stronghold of his family – namely former tainted Union Minister Sukh Ram. Anil Sharma is confident that he can deliver the seats from this district to BJP.


A key observation is that the Congress has not fielded many of its high profile VVIP leaders to campaign in Himachal. There seems to be some hesitancy in involving their forever in-waiting President Rahul Gandhi more actively in Himachal. They are most likely to blame the loss to anti-incumbency towards the CM and negative BJP propaganda. Smaller parties are not expected to win any seats & their vote share will further dip. The vote share of 4 smaller parties in 2012 were, CPM 4.98%, CPI 2.18%, NCP 1.97% and BSP only 1.22%. This time it is projected that there will be a 4 % swing of votes from these parties towards BJP.

BJP seems to have got its strategy right for Himachal. Their war room in Shimla is buzzing with 150 people 24×7 connecting on phone with all the voters on their issues & powering their social media campaign. In stark contrast, the Congress war room at times is deserted and attending ‘important meetings’ prior to the visit of Rahul Gandhi.

As per my prediction model, BJP will win with a THUMPING majority of 57 seats!

Himachal prediction

The next BIG election is in Gujarat! Keep tuned in for the prediction for Gujarat in the next few weeks…



The 2017 UP elections has become a national event for Indians. For BJP it is critical that they win so that they can get the control over Rajya Sabha.

Akhilesh Yadav is hoping that the ‘orchestrated’ revolt within the SP will have a positive impact within their voter base and sideline the nepotism, goondaraj & corruption within the SP. This would project him as the young development face for UP & a new SP leader.

Muslim votes may probably be divided in these elections. They were not happy on how SP handled Muzzafarnagar riots and Dadri issue. Mulayam and Akhilesh visited the riot affected areas only 6 months after the incident. This has left the Muslim community angry with them. BSP has been silently trying to woo Muslims towards them by allocating at least 100 seats to them. There may be a spilt of votes between SP-INC, BSP & to some extent to BJP! BJP, by cleverly supporting the Triple Talaq issue, hopes that they get secret support from the Muslim women, especially in the urban regions. Even in 2014 general elections, they did get 7% of total Muslim votes.

It seems that SP is not confident of victory and hence they have aligned with Rahul Gandhi so that they can get the Muslim votes of the Congress. This seems to be a desperate move especially since Congress has recently only been a liability to the other parties with whom they have tied up. We will soon know if allowing Congress to piggyback on them is going to benefit SP or not.

BJP is confident that Modi can recreate the magic of 2014 which gave them a record of 72 LS seats in UP! Amit Shah was the architect of the 2014 victory and he is now hoping that they repeat it again in 2017.  He has been focusing in strengthening the BJP at the grassroot level. There has been meticulous planning in allocating seats in each assembly. They have also managed to attract defectors from other parties.

BJP knows that they have got overwhelming support on the demonetization drive & is hoping that it will help translate into votes. Also there is a significant population from UP in the Indian Armed Forces and hence the Surgical strikes done by India on Pakistan will help them further.  The UP elections is no longer at a regional level but is being fought at an National level.

As per my prediction model, it seems that BJP will get close to 2/3rd of majority in UP. BJP will win with 247 seats (+- 5%) and come to power.  BSP & SP would be very close 2nd & 3rd. Congress as expected, will be insignificant & on decline….