The centre-stage of India’s political landscape is now firmly held by the BJP with two back-to-back majority in general elections. A party which had just two seats in its kitty in 1984 has now influence over more than 50 per cent of the population.
In its landslide victory, the BJP has seen its vote share soar past 50 per cent in at least 13 states and Union territories, a feat which the rival Congress could manage only in Puducherry.
Besides, the main opposition party's voting percentage has remained in single digits in politically important states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh.
Way back in 1996, it was Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s pragmatic leadership which helped the party shed its "untouchable" tag as it forged new alliances and led the first non-Congress government which completed its five-year tenure.
The party's vote share went up to 20.1 per cent in 1991 from 11.4 per cent in 1989 and 7.4 per cent in 1984.
As per the preliminary estimates, the BJP has significantly improved its national vote share from 31.34 per cent in 2014 to a new record high, while there appeared to be only a marginal change in case of the Congress from its 19.5 per cent score of the last elections.
The BJP had got 7.74 per cent vote share in 1984 when it got two Lok Sabha seats, after which it consistently saw an increase till 1998 (25.59 per cent) and then slipped for three consecutive national elections till 2009 (18.8 per cent), before surging again in 2014.
The Congress, which secured 45 per cent votes in the first parliamentary elections in 1952, saw its voting percentage remain in 40s till the 1971 elections. After a slump to 34.5 per cent in 1977, the Congress again returned to 42.7 per cent in 1980 and then to a record high of 48.1 per cent in 1984/85.
While the elections held immediately after Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984 saw the Congress record a vote share of 49.1 per cent, it got 32.14 per cent votes in delayed polls that were held in Punjab and Assam in 1985 -- resulting in an overall figure of 48.1 per cent.
The Congress vote share, however, began to dip after that with its voting percentage dropping to 39.5 per cent in 1989 and further to 20s between 1996 and 2009, and even below that mark in 2014.
Here is an analysis of how the BJP’s and Congress’ vote shares have varied over the years:
1996 Lok Sabha Election
BJP – 20.29 per cent | Congress – 28.8 per cent
In the 1996 general elections, the BJP for the first time became the single largest party in Lok Sabha by winning 161 seats and staked claim to form the government.
The first ever BJP-led government, formed under the leadership of Vajpayee, lasted for only 13 days as it failed to attract allies to muster a majority.
1998 Lok Sabha Election
BJP – 25.6 per cent | Congress – 28.8 per cent
In the next general polls in 1998, the BJP's tally increased and it got 182 seats in the Lok Sabha and formed a coalition government called the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which lasted 13 months when it lost a no-confidence motion by a single vote.
1999 Lok Sabha Election
BJP – 23.8 | Congress – 28.3
In 1999, the BJP came back to power as the NDA won 270 seats in the general elections on its own, with the party again getting 182 seats. And Vajpayee became prime minister for the third time.
This time BJP's government lasted the full term until the next general polls in 2004, from where the BJP's decline started as it lost two back-to-back general elections.
2004 Lok Sabha Election
BJP – 22.2 | Congress – 26.5
The Congress-led UPA came to power and Dr Manmohan Singh took over as the second non-Gandhi prime minister. The Congress won 145 seats while the UPA won 225. On the other hand, the BJP won 138 seats and the NDA won 189.
The then Congress chief Sonia Gandhi refused to become the prime minister, saying it was a response to her inner call.
2009 Lok Sabha Election
BJP – 18.8 per cent | Congress – 28.6 per cent
The UPA retained power at the Centre owing to its impressive performance in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Manmohan Singh became the first prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to be re-elected after completing a full five-year term.
The UPA was able to put together a comfortable majority with support from 322 members out of 543 members of the House. Though this is less than the 335 members who supported the UPA in the last parliament, UPA alone had a plurality of over 260 seats as opposed to 218 seats in the 14th Lok Sabha.
2014 Lok Sabha Election
BJP – 31.3 per cent | Congress – 19.5 per cent
A change of fortunes happened in 2014 with the emergence of Narendra Modi on the national scene as the face of the saffron party and under his leadership the BJP won 282 seats on its own. And this was perhaps the first party in three decade when any party had got majority on its own.
2019 Lok Sabha Election
BJP – 38 per cent (still under calculation by EC) | Congress – 19.6 per cent (still under calculation by EC)
With the BJP riding a Modi wave that took it past its 2014 tally of 282, the opposition was left way behind with the Congress winning only 52 seats, two less than it needs for a Leader of Opposition post in the lower house and marginally more than the 44 it got in the last general elections.
Sealing its phenomenal electoral victory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP crossed the 300 mark and was leading in one seat as counting for votes for 542 Lok Sabha seats neared its end
The state-wise preliminary data for the 2019 elections showed that the Congress could get a vote share of just about 6 per cent in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, and a little higher at about 7 per cent in Bihar. The score is even worse at just about 1 per cent in Andhra Pradesh and Sikkim.
Even in Punjab, where the party has done relatively well, the Congress vote share is about 40 per cent with Puducherry being the only place where it has crossed the half-way mark at about 57 per cent.
In comparison, the BJP has got close to 50 per cent in Uttar Pradesh and even higher in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Delhi, Chandigarh and Arunachal Pradesh.
In West Bengal also, the BJP has secured close to 40 per cent votes and in Jammu & Kashmir it has scored approximately 46 per cent.
Among the states where it fought election in alliance, the BJP got close to 10 per cent in Punjab, 27 per cent in Maharashtra, 35 per cent in Assam, 24 per cent in Bihar and 3.34 per cent in Tamil Nadu.
In Telangana, the BJP has got nearly 20 per cent votes, while it could get only 0.9 per cent in Andhra Pradesh. In Kerala, the BJP has got nearly 13 per cent and over 38 per cent in Odisha.