The 16th Lok Sabha Election took the politics of India by stride when the results were declared on 16 May 2014. In the Lok Sabha Election 2014, main opposition party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept a major portion of the Lok Sabha seats with 282 and as a result, BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) secured 334 seats out of total 543 seats of Lok Sabha. On the other hand, UPA secured just 60 seats.
However, what remained the focal point of these elections was the voter’s behaviour and changing trend of Indian politics.
Voting Behaviour- What Is It?
Voting behaviour is primarily a kind of political behaviour of majority of voters in a country. By having a clear understanding of the voter’s behaviour, it is easy to understand why and how the public decision-makers make their decisions.
The political leaders, in order to influence or make predictions or inferences regarding the behaviour of a voter, keep into considerations a lot of factors. These factors include religion, culture, race, caste and gender.
Voter’s behaviour in 16th Lok Sabha Election
Dominance of the dynasty politics, corruption, anti-incumbency, a Prime Minister who failed to have communication with the people of India, inflation, rising number of women-centric crimes and lack of proper governance were some of the major factors affecting the voter’s behaviour in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections.
However, broadly one can divide the factors affecting voter’s behaviour under three heads, viz., emotional factors, Prime Minister Candidate, and Media.
Emotional Factors affecting voter’s behaviour
It has been found that there are a range of factors that affect a voter’s behaviour and some of these which affected the voter’s behaviour in the 16th Lok Sabha Election include:
• Anger- Generating an emotion of anger among the voters regarding a political party can help in generating votes for the other political party.
In the 16th LS Election, the anti-incumbency factor towards INC (Indian National Congress) was so dominant in these elections that it was clearly visible in the voter’s behaviour. BJP, in its campaign, understood and channelized this anger in tapping more votes for their party.
• Anxiety- Voters who face anxiety during the elections vote for those candidates who manage to bring forth the effective manifesto of policies and promises.
As the results of the Lok Sabha Elections 2014 showed that the voters felt agitated and anxious towards INC’s lack of offering any development or even the hope of doing so. This automatically shifted the votes to the party that effectively managed to market its “Gujarat Model,” and at the same time, gave a hope along with confidence, of delivering equally efficient model to the entire country.
• Insecurity- In the studies conducted by Psychology experts, it has also been found that insecurity among voters regarding their future as well as safety and security of their life can play a pivotal role in their behaviour.
In the Lok Sabha Election 2014, it was clearly visible that the voters lost confidence in the present Union Government, which shifted the voting graph completely towards a party that are ready to offer everything that a voter demanded.
Prime Ministerial Candidates affecting Voter’s Behaviour in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections
The most drastic change observed in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections was that instead of being party-specific, the elections became person-specific. In fact, it was this factor which became one of the most important factors in the outcome of the 16th Lok Sabha Election. It was the rising popularity of Narendra Modi as a decisive leader that overshadowed anti-incumbency factor related to the UPA-II Government.
Media’s Impact on Voter’s Behaviour
The media and its use in political campaigns also affect the voter’s behaviour. The media was use at its best in the 16th Lok Sabha Election. On the one hand, BJP led by Narendra Modi managed managed to conceptualize his political campaign through social media and immediately captured the youth of India. On the other hand Indian National Congress led by Rahul Gandhi was found to be wanting on this count.
In the past or even in the present, no other political party has managed to use the social media to engage a large population of youth, a section which lacks interest in the politics of the country.
• The primary difference between the past elections and the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections was a societal behaviour shift. The graph took a deep shift from traditional community boundaries like religion and caste, to the more transparent factors such as economic status and geo-location.
• Another crucial difference was a less relevant Hindu-Muslim division because huge number of young voters influenced the votes and this population does not consider sectarian impulse as a primary factor during voting.
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