On the exit poll, BJP opponents are reminding of 2004, what happened 20 years ago?

Ananya Shroff
10 Min Read


New Delhi: As soon as the exit polls indicated a big lead for the BJP and its led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the opposition got angry. Many opposition parties including Congress, SP, RJD said that this is actually an estimate presented at the behest of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government. They claim that the actual results will be opposite to the exit polls and the opposition will form the government by winning 295 seats. At the same time, there are many BJP and Modi opponents who are reminding that something happened in 2004 too when the slogan 'Abki Baar 400 Paar' came from the BJP. They are telling how in 2004 too big happy pictures were being painted about the ruling party, many exit polls were also announcing the return of the government, but when the actual results came, all the estimates and claims went in vain. So can the results like 2004 come this time too? Can the Modi government be removed this time too like the Atal government in 2004? The biggest question is whether Congress really defeated BJP badly in 2004? Let us try to find answers to these questions and find out whether the atmosphere this time is the same as 2004, almost the same or completely opposite…

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Atal government was formed in 1998 and fell in 13 months

In 1999, BJP formed the government at the centre by winning 182 seats. Actually, Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government was formed in 1998 itself, but due to Tamil Nadu's ally AIADMK withdrawing support, the government lost the trust vote by just one vote in just 13 months. At that time, the opposition parties were not able to form the government together, so elections were held. In that 1999 election, BJP came back to power by winning 182 seats. For the first time, Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government completed its five-year term. Before this, he had become the Prime Minister twice, but for the first time the government fell in just 13 days. The fate of the second government formed in 1999 has been mentioned above.

In 1999, the Atal government formed for the third time completed its term

When Atal Bihari's government completed five years for the third time, many of his schemes were praised. Atal government did many revolutionary works like Golden Quadrilateral Scheme, New Telecom Policy, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Nuclear Test in Pokhran, Chandrayaan-1 Mission, Formation of new department for Northeast states in the Central Ministry. By creating the Disinvestment Ministry, Atal government promoted privatization and separated itself from many loss-making government companies. In 2004, BJP appealed to the voters to give Atal government a chance again with the slogan 'India Shining'. It seemed as if the public was very happy with the achievements of Atal government and had made up its mind to give it another chance. Exit polls also predicted the return of Atal government, but when the counting of votes started, the results changed.

What happened in 2004 that the opposition is reminding us of?

In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, BJP had fielded 364 candidates. The party won 138 seats with a strike rate of 37.91%. On the other hand, the strike rate of the Congress party was 34.77% and out of its total 417 candidates, 145 were elected to the Parliament. That is, Congress got only seven seats more than BJP. As far as votes are concerned, BJP got a total of 8 crore, 63 lakh, 71 thousand, 561 votes, that is, a total of 22.61%. On the other hand, Congress got 10 crore, 34 lakh, 8 thousand, 949 votes, that is, 26.53%. In this respect, BJP got an average of 2,37,284 votes per candidate, while for Congress this figure was 247,983. In this election, BJP got a big setback from Uttar Pradesh. Five years ago, Uttar Pradesh had given 29 MPs to BJP, but there it was reduced to 10 seats. Loss of 19 seats in just one state. At that time Congress had won 9 seats in UP. In the 2004 elections, Congress had got the maximum number of 29 seats from Andhra Pradesh. Whereas BJP had got the maximum number of 25 seats from Madhya Pradesh.

Performance of BJP-Congress in 1999 and 2004 Lok Sabha elections
1999 2004
BJP Congress BJP Congress
Number of candidates 339 453 364 417
How many candidates won? 182 114 138 145
strike rate 53.69% 25.17% 37.91% 34.77%
Total votes polled by the party 8,65,62,209 10,31,20,330 8,63,71,561 10,34,08,949
% of total votes polled by party 23.75% 28.30% 22.61% 26.53%
Average number of votes per candidate 2,55,345 2,27,638 2,37,284 247,983

Even in 1999, Congress had got more votes, but…

Interestingly, in this election too, Congress got more votes than BJP. At that time, Congress got 10,31,20,330 votes i.e. 28.30% while BJP got 8,65,62,209 votes i.e. 23.75%. BJP won 182 seats in 1999 with a strike rate of 53.69%. It had fielded a total of 339 candidates. In that election, BJP got 29 seats each in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh while Congress got 10 and 11 seats respectively in UP. It got the maximum 18 seats from Karnataka while it got only 5 seats from Andhra Pradesh. It is clear that unlike the way Uttar Pradesh gave a big blow to BJP in the 2004 elections, Andhra Pradesh gave a big lead to Congress.

Congress is an all-India party and BJP is not! These six figures show how false this story is

This is the truth of 2004 Lok Sabha elections

So keep in mind that in 2004, the Congress party had got a lead of only seven seats over the BJP. Congress decided to run a coalition government for the first time and after the results, the United Progressive Alliance i.e. UPA was formed. With the help of all the allies, UPA got 208 seats while NDA got only 181 seats. But the exit polls had said that NDA can get 230 to 275 seats. At the same time, Congress was expected to get a maximum of 205 seats. The exit polls had said that NDA will get 80 to 100 seats more than Congress. That is, if we talk only about BJP in NDA, then it was given a lead over Congress by a very small margin. In the actual results, this difference was reversed and Congress took a lead over BJP by a small margin of only seven seats. However, NDA got 50 to 60 seats less than the exit poll estimates.

So can the exit poll results change this time too?

When the exit polls came for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, everyone had given at least 350 seats to the NDA. The magic number to form a government in the 543-seat Lok Sabha is 274. Even if we assume that the 2004 pattern can be repeated this time too, the NDA will get at least 290 seats (350 – 60) in the actual results. That is, the return of the government is certain. The second argument given is that the Modi government's 'Vikas Bharat' and 'Modi ki Guarantee' can also go out of fashion like 'India Shining'. Nothing is impossible, but these opponents also know how much difference there is between Atal-Advani's BJP and Modi-Shah's BJP. At the time of Atal-Advani, the concept of booth level micro management of elections had not even come, which Modi-Shah's BJP has been implementing since 2014.

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