This is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's deadly battle tank (DBT). The top-firepower tanked the Opposition in state after state. Be it Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand or Goa, it is this strategic weapon that had made the EVMs beep saffron triumph at the hustings.
However, in places like Punjab and West Bengal where the DBT has been weak at the knees, the archrivals there had brought the BJP to knees.
Though the country's GOP (Grand Old Party) had gone for a pilot test of the DBT in the 9th year of its 10-year tenure, PM Narendra Modi with JAM enablers loaded the DBT and rolled it out in the year 2015. This Modi armament is billed as the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme that delivers the intended benefits of a tailormade scheme directly to the beneficiary.
Analysis shows how DBT has reaped a rich harvest for the BJP in the Assembly elections held after 2015. For the test case, only the states are taken into consideration where the BJP was in power. The states where it rode to power on the wings anti-incumbency have been excluded.
As a result, BJP storming to power in Assam (2016), Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur 2017), Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka (emerged single largest party) in 2018 have been excluded from the study. Because the saffron party tasted victory courtesy of the anti-incumbency against the GOP and Samajwadi Party.
DBT And Gujarat
In a low turnout election, where Gujarat went to election without Modi at the helm, and in the backdrop of explosive Patel reservation issue, the saffron party retained power despite losing nearly 15 seats to the Opposition.
A look shows it is the DBT that made the BJP duck the headwinds during the 2017 polls. In DBT implementation, the western State Gujarat has been among the top-5 performers In 2017-18, when farmers were unhappy with the state government due to drought and collapse in price support mechanism, the Modi govt had sent Rs 669 cr under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY). For casual labourers, a whopping Rs 631 cr was transferred under MGNREGA. Similarly, over Rs 93 cr under Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY).
Despite headwinds galore, BJP upped its vote share by 1.2 percent vis-a-vis 2,5 percent up by opposition Congress. Modi and his DBT helped BJP retain Gujarat under the then CM Vijay Rupani.
The state's score in DBT per capita has been high at 64.4.
DBT And Rajasthan, MP & Chhattisgarh
The elections to three states were held in the penultimate year of 2019 Lok Sabha. BJP lost the three states to the archrival Congress. The poor ranks of the states in DBT index tell the tale.
The state of Rajasthan languished at 18th rank in DBT from Modi government. The state of Chhattisgarh trailed badly at 22nd position in DBT implementation. In both the states, BJP lost to Congress miserably.
On the contrary, Madhya Pradesh which figured among the top 10 states in DBT implementation saw a very close contest and the seat gap between BJP and Congress was only 7. Despite BJP being in the power-seat since 2003, Opposition Congress under veteran Kamalnath could win only 114 seats as against 109 by BJP.
The saffron doughty performance at the hustings in MP is attributed partly to DBT and Mama ji (Shivraj Singh Chouhan).
DBT And Haryana, Maharashtra
In 2019, after the LS elections, polls for the State Assembly were held in the month of October. The saffron party emerged as the single largest party with 40 seats, it had lost 7 seats vis-a-vis the 2014 Assembly election. But the popular vote share of the party was up by 3.4 percent vis-a-vis Opposition Congress gaining 7.5 percent.
As per the DBT ranking, Haryana figured among the top-5 in 2019. Though in 2022 the state has been ranked at number one, the score in DBT per capita has been only 55.1.
Coming to Maharashtra, the BJP fought the election in alliance with Shiv Sena with contesting on an equal number of seats. While the Devendra Fadnavis led BJP lost 17 seats and 2 percent popular vote support, the opposition NCP gained 13 seats.
Though BJP emerged as the single largest party, and the alliance had the number to form the government, Shiv Sena switched sides and Uddhav Thackeray is the CM now.
In the DBT, Maharashtra languished at 26th rank. The score in DBT per capita has been a mere 24.5.
DBT And Bihar
The year 2020 saw elections in two states - National Capital Delhi and Bihar.
In Feb, elections were held for Delhi Assembly. Aam Admi Party won 62 seats, 5 less than 67 in 2015. Kejriwal led AAP lost nearly 1 percent vote share (0.73), BJP gained 6 percent vote share.
Significantly, the DBT per capita score in Delhi is high at 58.2. But the AAP's DBT - free power and Water - outweighed Modi DBT.
In the month of October, Bihar went to the polls. BJP's performance was spectacular. The party contested 110 seats and went on to win in 74. Alliance partner and big brother in Bihar, JD-U contested in 115 seats but could win on 43.
Though BJP gained from Modi factor, JD-U's lacklustre performance attributed to a poor score in DBT per capita. Bihar's score stood at 39.2.
DBT and UP, Goa & Uttarakhand
Recently, in the elections held in the states of UP, Goa, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Manipur, BJP won convincingly in UP, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa.
The party has increased its popular vote share in all the states (UP, UK, Manipur and Goa) where it was in power.
The role of DBT in the states is given below. Consider the latest data.
Uttar Pradesh: The total DBT transfer to the State in 2021-22 stands at Rs 91,510 cr. The transaction in the state stood at around 82 cr. And the DBT per capita score stood high at 63. In the DBT index, the state is ranked second in the country.
Uttarakhand: In the DBT per capita, the score of the state has been 39.2. But UK is ranked at number 5 in the DBT transfer index. CM Dami lost the election by a big margin.
Goa: The state has been ranked at number 7 nationally. But the DBT per capita score stood at 33.2. BJP has not gained the majority in the elections on its own.
Punjab: BJP won 2 seats. The party had an alliance with SAD in 2017. Contested 23 seats, won on 3. Party's vote share was 5.4 percent. In 2022 polls, the vote share of BJP went up to 6.6 percent.
In the DBT per capita score, the score of Punjab has been 65.4.
But the contest here had been with AAP. The AAP DBT on offer for the electorate had been Rs 5 meal at all sub-divisional towns, abolition of property tax and pruning the domestic electricity duty rates by half, plus a string of sops for farmers far outweighed Modi's DBT.
Odisha And Modi DBT
In Odisha, there has been a keen contest between Modi DBT and Naveen DBT. Naveen has a perception edge here as the fertiliser subsidy and PDS transfers are routed through State agencies.
While in the latest DBT Index, the Central DBT transfers to Odisha stood at a massive Rs 21,769 cr and the State has been ranked at number 12 in the country, the DBT per capita score for Odisha stands at a mere 36.5.
The cumulative DBT transfers to Odisha from the Modi govt stands at Rs 86, 635 cr.
Naveen DBT Vs Modi DBT
- Under PM KISAN, the Modi government had transferred Rs 1,572 cr to Odisha farmers in 2019-20. The 2021-22 data is not available.
- Under KALIA, Naveen govt had transferred Rs 1272 cr in 2020-21. The transfer in 2021-22 stands at 2,567 cr.
- Rs 141 cr as input subsidy to farmers
- Rs 737 cr as fertiliser subsidy to farmers in the State. But the delivery agency here has been the State government.
- Rs 6.5 crore transferred under Atal Pension Yojana.
- Centre made a cash transfer of over 5,741 cr under PMAY-G
- Rs 4085 cr transferred to State for PDS rice distribution.
- Rs 2076 cr transferred to Odisha under MGNREGA in 2019-20.
- Naveen DBT transfer at Rs 169 cr under the scholarship programme for students
- The State govt DBT transfers for programmes like MAMATA et al under the WCD department stood at Rs 300 cr.
- DBT transfer for procurement by the Naveen government has been Rs 10,055 cr.
- Under Swacch Bharat Mission-G, the Modi govt transferred Rs 1,191 cr in 2019-20
A look at the above data shows that DBT transfer by Modi government to Odisha has been high. But a score of 36.5 in DBT per capita as against 63 in Uttar Pradesh hints at low outreach in Odisha.
The reason behind lower per capita score is attributed to non-implementation of central schemes PMVVY, PMJAY etc.