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Letters: Some divergent numbers

Business Standard  |  New Delhi 

This refers to Praveen Chakravarty's article "India's 'black swan' election" (May 21). The writer has said the Hindi-speaking states constitute: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Delhi. While the non-states are: Assam, West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.

It would be incorrect to say Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Punjab are Hindi-speaking states. An appropriate conclusion would be that the divergence between the ruling formation's tally in the north-west and the rest of the country is the highest in our electoral history.

However, the article seems to suggest that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)'s good performance can be attributed only to the speaking parts of India. No doubt, the performed poorly in states like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Odisha - but the results get skewed when you include Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Punjab (three states that the swept) in the Hindi-speaking category.

While the did sweep the Hindi-speaking states with an astonishing 87.6 per cent of the seat tally, it did have a respectable 41.3 per cent of the seat tally of the non-speaking states (table 1). Therefore, the overall distribution of seats has a much better distribution with a roughly 60-40 divide between Hindi and non-Hindi speaking states (table 2).

I have only considered the 18 states used by the writer in his analysis. This corresponds to 495 seats or approximately 91 per cent of the electorate.

Sujan Bandyopadhyay Mumbai

Praveen Chakravarty replies:

The writer is inaccurate in his numbers - he has not included Jharkhand with 14 seats, which will add up to 95 per cent of all seats across the 18 largest states, as mentioned in my article.

Right at the start, my article points out that it is a loose definition only to mean all states outside of the south and east non-Hindi speaking states. I could have used an inane term such as "rest" to denote states other than the non-Hindi states of the south and east.

The presence of dominant regional parties in the "non-Hindi" states and how the need for alliances with them to win a national was obviated by the Modi campaign is the larger point of the piece.

The fact that the Bharatiya Janata Party won nearly 90 per cent of seats in one set of states that didn't need alliances and won 20 per cent in states that needed alliances, and still won a big majority overall is what the piece tries to highlight.

That is why the piece describes the recently concluded elections as a 'black swan' event and calls Modi's achievements path breaking.

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First Published: Thu, May 22 2014. 21:01 IST