February 29, 2016

GHMC results analysis: part 2

Methodology & challenges

In the first part of this report, I analyzed the GHMC results at a high level. I trust this answered the first question "what is the true scope of this victory?" adequately. However answering, or even attempting to answer, the others requires a more detailed analysis. This throws up several challenges that I outline together with the methods I adopted to bridge the gaps.

There are two proximate results that are of interest in the present context:

·         2009 GHMC elections
·         Assembly elections in 2014

When GHMC was constituted in 2007 or sometime shortly thereafter a delimitation exercise was conducted to delineate ward boundaries. The election commission conducted a nation-wide delimitation exercise in the period leading to the 2014 general elections. The 2014 exercise resulted in several wards crossing assembly boundaries.

A fresh delimitation initiative was taken up in the period leading towards the current GHMC elections. Among others, this corrected the assembly-ward overlap issue. Unfortunately this also means the 2016 wards no longer correspond to those in 2009 even if the names are the same in several cases.

As per usual practice the election commission supplementary final rolls just before the election in all the three cases. In addition a nation-wide enrollment drive was conducted a few months before the 2014 general elections.

There is an additional dimension to the above "apples to apples" mismatch. Though 20 of the 24 assembly constituencies are fully within GHMC limits, the other four do not. While Secunderabad Cantonment (# 71) is fully urban, parts of the constituency fall under the limits of Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB). Three other constituencies (# 40 Patancheru, # 50 Maheshwaram and # 51 Rajendranagar) are partially rural.

The ward level mismatch between the 2009 & 2016 elections does not affect us seriously. So much water has flown down the Musi that a granular comparison does not yield any benefit even had there been a 1:1 correspondence.

The comparison between 2014 & 2016 can however not be dismissed in like vein. Unfortunately no matrix, map or any other information linking wards with assembly constituencies is available. I tried to resolve this by resorting to painstaking & rather unscientific process of assigning each ward to an assembly using knowledge, guesswork and some tricky balancing.

Even a pakka Hyderabadi like me is unlikely to be fully knowledgeable of the entire city's topology. My subjective assessment of the "confidence level" of this exercise is around 90%.

Regarding the four "partial" assembly constituencies, I assumed the vote preference is evenly distributed in each assembly constituency. This is a reasonable assumption in my opinion.

Turning now to the party landscape across the three elections, one finds the following issues:

·         TDP & BJP contested the 2009 elections separately. I assumed the vote transfer would have been total had they contested under the NDA umbrella.
·         TRS did not contest the 2009 elections. I assumed they would have drawn a blank or near blank had they done so.
·         The now defunct Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) did quite well in 2009 while YCP put up a similar show in 2014. LSP did well both in 2009 & 2014. I am treating all these as a part of the OTH votes.

Finally what about party rebels contesting as independents? I was able to reconcile the status of the deposit retaining independents in 2014. While the major party rebels did quite well accounting for just over the 3% mark across Telangana, GHMC remained rebel free.

I did not attempt this reconciliation in the current elections. However even if the combined vote of the deposit retaining independents is transferred to any single party, the impact at hardly 1% is not particularly material.

This situation is fortunate for the analysts as deciding how to treat the votes polled by a rebel is extremely tricky. The first reaction is to credit the rebel's votes to the "parent party". This may not be a valid assumption in the case of strong individuals.

I do not consider the fact that the turnout was different in the three elections as a serious deterrent. This is always the case in every situation. After all one is comparing vote shares when determining vote swing & change. The next time you come across some one reporting "x% of party A voters shifted away in this election" take it with a pinch of salt! This may sound interesting but the reality is "the percentage of votes polled by party A in this election is x% less than the previous one" J

Impact on assembly & Loksabha constituencies

What will happen if assembly & Loksabha elections are held today? Let us assume for the moment NDA stays intact and the voters act exactly as they did in the GHMC elections.

TRS is sitting pretty in the three assemblies it won in 2014 with no other party coming even remotely close. It will win all three constituencies hands down.

NDA is trailing badly in 4 of the 5 constituencies BJP won in 2014. The only exception is Goshamahal (# 65) where it has a slender 692 votes (0.6%) lead over TRS. This can be offset if the NDA breaks up, TRS mops up a few votes from the Congress's 13.9% share or some of the Majlis's 21.2% voters resort to tactical voting. It may be noted that Majlis is no stranger to tactical voting. I will put this assembly down as too close to call.

NDA performance in all the nine assemblies that returned TDP nominees in 2014 is even more pathetic. It does not come close in even a single assembly.

Majlis is way ahead in 4 of the 7 constituencies it won in 2014. Karwan (# 64) looks trickier with its lead over TRS at a somewhat lower 5.5%. TRS can try to turn the tables by attracting some of the NDA (14.0%) and/or Congress (3.4%) votes. The demographics of the constituencies are such that Majlis would find it difficult to garner many more votes. In view of the situation, I will classify this seat as too close to call.

The situation in Nampalli (#63) is opposite that of Karwan as TRS enjoys an identical 5.5% lead over Majlis. Given more or less identical demographic composition, I will call this constituency for TRS.

Malakpet (# 58) falls in an altogether different category as TRS is at a comfortable 42.9% share outscoring Majlis & NDA together. Congress is in a bad shape with just 7.4% share with the result that a Congress-Majlis tie-up is not feasible. As this would have been the only serious challenge to TRS, we can safely call this assembly in favor of TRS.

Summarizing, I would expect TRS to win 18 assemblies, Majlis to retain four with the other two constituencies too close to call. While Congress would draw a blank yet again, TDP will provide them company in the "duck club". BJP too could join them unless they get their act together.

What about the Loksabha? Medak with just one assembly seat is not of much interest to us. Let us examine the situation in 4 constituencies.

Majlis will retain Hyderabad comfortably with a 43.2% vote share in spite of the setback in Malakpet and tougher conditions in Karwan. TRS can upset the applecart by allying with the NDA: a situation that is extremely unlikely if not downright possible!

TRS won only in Chevella constituency in 2014. While TDP won all the three GHMC assembly seats in Chevella, TRS turned the tables in the four rural constituencies. This time around TRS is sitting pretty in the urban segments outscoring the combined NDA & Congress votes. We can therefore safely predict TRS will retain this seat.

TRS lost Malkajgiri narrowly to TDP. It won Medchal, the only urban seat in Malkajgiri's seven assemblies, by a comfortable margin. The present situation in the six GHMC assemblies shows TRS at an unbeatable 50.7% strength thus winning the seat handsomely.

BJP won Secunderabad in 2014 with a thumping 43.7% vote share. TRS will reverse the situation with an even more impressive 49.0%.

To summarize Majlis will retain its lone seat while TRS will sweep the other three. TDP & BJP will both end up losing the only Loksabha seats they hold in Telangana.

Vote swing

Here are the long awaited swing numbers:


Vote share
Vote swing

TRS more than doubled its strength in just a couple of years. Majlis stood its ground in all the three elections. The other players came tumbling down election after election J

There are however a couple of surprises:

·         The swing away from Congress in 2016 is much better than the NDA's
·         Contrary to popular perception, NDA performance in 2014 is actually a letdown from 2009!
·         Both Congress & NDA lost around a third of its 2009 votes in seven years

There is a general perception that the 5.2% 2014 YCP share shifted nearly enmasse to TRS this time. While this is plausible, the residual swing is quite impressive at 18.9%. The conclusion is inescapable: TRS took votes away from every rival with the exception of Majlis. Even the Majlis voters in the 90 wards it did not contest shifted to a good extent to the TRS.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2009 general elections, TDP argued that its defeat was due to PRP and LSP splitting the anti-Congress votes that they should have rightfully won. If we accept this contention, NDA vote fell by 10.2% in 2009-2014 and a further 14% in the next two years. This represents a 24.2% negative swing in seven years, much worse than the Congress's 18% loss in the same period.

NDA dynamics

The relations between TDP & BJP parties have been quite inconsistent after the former was established in 1983. TDP led a broad coalition of non-Congress parties including the BJP in the 1984 Loksabha elections and the 1985 mid-term elections. The relationship broke up shortly afterwards.

TDP did occasionally ally with other parties after 1985 but stayed away from BJP preferring the groups styled "third front" or similar nomenclature. The situation changed in 1999 with the TDP joining the BJP led NDA. The alliance worked well till TDP broke away in the aftermath of the 2002 riots.

TDP rejoined NDA before the 2014 general elections. The alliance contested 119 seats in Telangana polling around 21.6% of the votes and winning 20 seats. Their performance in the 24 GHMC assembly constituencies was an impressive 14 seats and 35.4% vote share.

There was certain amount of resistance to the alliance with a few murmurs. Formal rebellion was somewhat muted and restricted to a couple of constituencies. TDP rebel Kancharla Bhupal Reddy stood second at Nalgonda (# 91) relegating the official nominee to the fifth position. BJP rebel Sankineni Venkateshwer Rao repeated the feat at the neighboring Suryapet (# 92). However GHMC remained rebel free in 2014 for all major parties.

The situation took a different turn this time around with the two parties fighting each other in 13 wards effectively limiting the NDA banner to 134 wards. The quantum of rift does not very look serious but can definitely not be dismissed as an outlier.

The following questions are pertinent in this context:

·         Would the situation have improved had these fights been avoided?
·         How did TDP & BJP fare against each other in these "friendly contests"?

The first question can be looked at assuming the votes of both the parties would have transferred to the leading party if the ground management was better. BJP candidate Dr. Kathyayani Burugula contesting at Ameerpet (ward # 98) not only did better than her TDP rival but may have won the ward in this scenario. The same goes for the Jeedimetla (ward # 132) TDP nominee Gaddam Swathika Reddy. In other words one can expect the tally of both parties to go up by a lone ward each at the TRS's expense. While every additional ward won is nice to have, this does not hold any significant interest to any serious analyst.

Coming to the next question, TDP polled 50.3% of the combined vote in these wards. TDP fared better than BJP in 7 of the wards while BJP led the contest in the other 6. Both parties averaged around 3,850 votes across the "contest spectrum". Nine TDP nominees and ten BJP candidates failed to cross the 5,000 threshold. In three wards their combined vote fell below this "no hoper" limit. The two parties secured the second position in four wards each.

At a first glance this appears to be an even draw. In reality TDP's 50.3% performance is significantly lower than the 55.9% share of the NDA votes it obtained across the 150 wards.

Let us take a deeper look at see if any further clues emerge. The contests were limited to nine assembly constituencies. Two wards in two constituencies were won by non-NDA parties in in 2014: TDP led BJP in both these. Out of the 7 contests in the 5 constituencies won by TDP in 2014, BJP came ahead in 3 wards. BJP did even better in the 4 contests mapped to the two constituencies it won in the assembly elections by yielding only a single ward to TDP. In other words, TDP yielded ground to BJP in just under half of its own strongholds while wresting the initiative only in a quarter of BJP support areas.

Looking at the performance in the 134 wards where the alliance held firm, BJP polled an average 5,584 votes per ward nearly 16.7% than the TDP's 4,789. Could this have been the result of better negotiation by the BJP? Unlikely in my opinion as TDP aspirants would have upped the ante even further if their party gave away favorable seats to its partners.

Was this because BJP supporters were not as enthusiastic for TDP as the other way round? Possibly but this signals more concerns for the alliance already troubled with simmering discontent. The other reason could be that the TDP lost much more ground than BJP. This can be tested in part by checking the assembly wise "average votes leadership" situation of the 134 "NDA wards". The situation in four constituencies is undeterminable as BJP did not contest even a single ward in these under the NDA umbrella. BJP performed better than TDP in 12 of the other 20 constituencies.

In summary BJP appears have emerged as the third most preferred party in Hyderabad!

The other pointer is that 3 of the 4 wards won by BJP are in the Hindu pockets of the old city. Even though TRS made major gains in the old city, BJP is not much far behind in its traditional stronghold. BJP also did quite well in areas where Hindi speaking voters, its other traditional votebank, live.

I tried to the estimate the respective "real votes" of the two parties using two alternate scenarios. In the first scenario I assumed the 50.3%:49.7% ratio would hold across all wards except the 44 won by Majlis where BJP would win 80% of the combined vote actually polled. This resulted in the BJP walking away with 52.8% of the "NDA votes" and improving its overall vote share to 12.4% against TDP's 11.1%.

The second scenario used the 80% share for BJP across seven assembly "old city" constituencies and the 50.3%:49.7% ratio in all others. BJP's vote estimate jumps to 55.3% of the "NDA votes" with its overall vote share coming to 13.0%. TDP's vote share falls to 10.5% i.e. just a notch above the Congress. While the situation may or may not be as alarming as this indicates, TDP must face the reality that its position in Hyderabad has been seriously dented.

As for the BJP, this is an improvement over the dismal 10.3% performance it put up in 2009. This will go up further when the votes that did not transfer to TDP return home. In addition they will also benefit by mopping up votes from the fast slipping Congress & TDP.

The evidence, though not substantive, indicates the saffron party may need to rethink the alliance strategy. The argument that the alliance dragged the BJP down is likely to find quite a few takers in the saffron ranks. This is clearly the BJP's "must decide now" moment in Telangana. The fact that the BJP is contesting on its own in the upcoming Warangal & Khammam municipal polls indicates the top brass may be moving in this direction.

I have now answered most of the questions that I set out at the beginning. I will continue working on the reasons behind the verdict in the reminder of the report.


  1. Hai jai how does TRS 24% swing compare with Kejriwal?

    thx Sunil

    1. AAP's swing between 2013-15 was 24.8%. TRS's present 24.1% swing is somewhat lower than AAP.

  2. Glad to inform everyone that Mission Telangana has reposted the two parts together as an article.


  3. Jai do u think Lokesh spoilt TDP chances becoz of immaturity?

    1. Considering this was virtually a debut for him, Lokesh acquitted himself quite well in my view. He was fluent & in general exhibited both confidence & spontaneity in his delivery.

      He did make a few unfortunate choices.

      1. He seemed to think he was addressing party workers, not the general public. Assuming the audience is already in your favor is never a good idea as you risk underselling the pitch.
      2. The 18-30 age group is a key demographic in any Indian election. Most of these are too young to remember Babu's heyday (~ 2000). "My dad built Hitec city" can be a good pitch only if the audience recalls it.
      3. The same goes for NTR. Very few people in the crowd would remember what he did a quarter century ago.
      4. Lokesh's criticism of TRS would have gone down better if he stuck to facts (e.g. farmer suicides) instead of personalities.
      5. Lokesh repeated the mistake Jagan did in 2014 by calling TRS's grandiose plans unrealistic. Very few voters care if the scheme is realistic. Naysayers are not welcome when the other party is promising the moon. If you think the idea is not feasible, wait till they fail to deliver.
      6. Finally I believe he should have spoken a few lines in Urdu. This would have addressed another key demographic and also helped his claim he is an authentic Hyderabadi.

  4. jai any prediction for wgl & khm?

    1. I don't think there is much change in Warangal since the recent Loksabha bye-poll. Local factors & rebels may play a role though. I am guessing a near sweep by TRS with a handful of seats to other parties.

      Khammam is much more tricky. Communists are important players here but there is much fratricide traditionally. Congress & TDP both have done well in the past as did YCP in 2014.

      This could be a four horse race (TRS, left, Congress & TDP) though there are murmurs of Congress & TDP "match fixing".

      On balance I would say TRS could just get past the half-way mark. Left could do well if the two sparring comrades get their act together. Congress & TDP will probably fight for the third place.

    2. A quick update on Warngal from secondary sources:

      TRS 51.7%, Congress: 13.5%, BJP: 10.4%, TDP: 2.4%

      Looks like BJP benefited from breaking off with TDP

  5. Bhayya very good analysis. Only thing I didn't understand is that TRS can win seats in old city if assembly election held today. I think MIM always wins in old city

    1. Depends on how you define the "old city". The traditional definition was the area in Hyderabad district south of Musi and broadly bounded by the two national highways. This is Majlis territory but covers only 4 constituencies.

      Karwan is west of this area while Malakpet is to its East while Nampalli is north of the Musi. Majlis needs a high turnout and/or split in anti-Majlis votes to win these constituencies. They will find it difficult to win in a direct or a near direct fight with a strong party.


Please be brief. Please respect everyone's privacy and do not reveal any private information about yourself or others.

Suggestions on improving the quality of this blog are always welcome. All other comments should be relevant to the subject of the post. I will delete all spam and messages with abusive or vulgar language.

All material in my blog is original. I will remove any copyrighted material if notified.

You may not use the material from my blog without my permission. I will not refuse any reasonable request as long as you credit me and provide a link to my own post.

If you post rejoinders, rebuttals or supplementary posts in your own blog, please leave a comment with a link.