Here’s a brief meditation on numbers and democracy in the wake of the Uttar Pradesh election results. It’s written especially for the melancholic and tragi-comic Indian Liberal.
There were 153 million eligible voters in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections in 2022.
However, across the seven rounds of voting, an average voter turnout of 60.6 per cent was recorded, which means that around 90 million electors turned up for polling. Also, the turnout was marginally lower than 61.04 per cent from five years ago.
It means that 63 million eligible voters in Uttar Pradesh did not vote in 2022.
The BJP’s vote share this time is 41.33 %. That means approximately 37.2 million voters voted for the BJP. That means around 116 million eligible voters did not vote for the BJP. That also means that of the 90 million voters who did vote, 53 million voters did not vote for the BJP.
The BJP’s nearest competitor is the SP. They got 32 % of the vote share. Which means that 29.3 million voters voted for them.
This also means that the difference between the BJP’s score and the SP’s score is a matter of just 7.9 million votes.
The BSP got 12.9 % of the vote share. That translates to 11.7 million votes. The RLD got 2.8% of the votes, and that translates into 2.28 million votes. The Congress got 2.34% of the vote share, which translates into 2.1 million votes.
If we combine the number of votes cast for the principal opposition parties – SP+BSP+RLD+Congress (29.3 million + 11.7 million + 2.28 million + 2.1 million) – we get a total figure of 45.38 million votes that were cast against the BJP. Which means that actually the BJP’s opposition together polled 8.18 million people more than the BJP did.
Now also consider the 63 million voters in Uttar Pradesh who did not, or could not, vote in Uttar Pradesh this time. How many of these 63 million voters were Muslims, Dalits, Women, the Working Poor, the young unemployed? What role did voter intimidation play in making sure that many of these 63 million voters did not step out to vote. How many of these 63 million voters would have voted for the BJP, and how many against the BJP, if they had voted?
There may have been some EVM substitution in Uttar Pradesh. The results may have looked different if votes cast and VVPATs were reconciled. But even without all that, let’s recognise the fact that what is ‘rigged’ is built into the arithmetical structure of the electoral system itself. Which always ensures that the party that claims victory actually has the minority of total votes cast. And, if we take into account the number of votes that are not cast, then, the ‘winner’, under this system, cannot and should not be considered, by any means, to constitute the embodiment of the popular will.
This is not democracy. It is fraud. And it doesn’t happen just in Uttar Pradesh, it happens, more or less, everywhere, every time, when elections are held in India.
The next time some gushing TV pundit hyperventilates about the BJP’s (or any party’s) electoral fortunes, take, as they say, a ‘chill pill’. The colossal fraud known as Yogi Adityanath by no means enjoys the confidence and support of even a significant number of the people eligible to vote in Uttar Pradesh. He rides to power backed by money, a complicit or confused media, the cultivation of hatred, an inept opposition – and yes, most importantly, a rigged electoral system. If this were cricket, we would call this abuse of the rhetoric of the democratic process to place fascists in power a form of ‘match fixing’.
Actually, the electoral ‘bulldozer’ is not even a shovel. However, as long as the ‘first past the post’ election system remains operational in India (with or without EVMs), what you will continue to get is parties that appease a minority (and that’s what the BJP is – it appeases the interests of a minority within the electorate to corner just enough votes cast to sail through) that will pretend that they enjoy the confidence of the majority of the population.
All things remaining the same, if you really want to defeat fascism in India, then start thinking outside the ‘smoke and mirrors’ of Indian elections and the fraud they represent.
Unnamed piece received via social media