The BJP’s Welfare Schemes: Did They Make a Difference in the 2019 Elections?

Date01 December 2019
AuthorK.K. Kailash,Louise Tillin,Rajeshwari Deshpande
Published date01 December 2019
Subject MatterArticles
The BJP’s Welfare Schemes: Did
They Make a Difference in the
2019 Elections?
Rajeshwari Deshpande1
Louise Tillin2
K.K. Kailash3
In this article, we use data from the 2019 NES post-poll survey to assess the impact of BJP’s welfare
schemes on voting behaviour. We demonstrate that compared to earlier elections, voters are more
likely to give credit to the central government as opposed to state governments or local politicians
for welfare schemes. This centralization is especially the case for some of the BJP’s new welfare pro-
grammes such as Ujjwala and the Jan Dhan Yojana. However, even earlier Congress-era schemes such
as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the Awas Yojana are now
more associated with the central government. Schemes such as the Public Distribution System (PDS)
and Old Age Pensions are still more likely to be associated with state governments. At the all-India
level, we find some evidence that voters who received benefits under Ujjwala, Jan Dhan Yojana or Awas
Yojana schemes were more likely to vote for the BJP, whereas recipients of pensions or MGNREGA
were less likely to support the BJP.
Welfare schemes, Ujjwala, BJP vote, NES 2019, centralization of credit, programmatic politics
The scale of the BJP’s victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections at a time of faltering economic growth,
rising agrarian distress, and increasing unemployment has led most observers to assume that voters
supported the BJP despite their material interests. The dominance of national security and strong
leadership as campaign themes, the more overt deployment of appeals to the majority Hindu community
compared to the 2014 campaign, the BJP’s ability to saturate the public sphere with sympathetic media
reporting and a massive imbalance in campaign finance have all loomed larger in ex-post analyses than
1 Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, India.
2 King’s India Institute, King’s College London, England.
3 University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India.
Corresponding author:
Rajeshwari Deshpande, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, Maharashtra 411007, India.
Studies in Indian Politics
7(2) 219–233, 2019
© 2019 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2321023019874911

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