Who will win India’s Election on 23rd May 2019?

Sanjeev Sharma is the author of the award-winning book ‘5 Core Methods of Innovation’ and is a contributing writer at SeekingAlpha/Yahoo Finance. He has accurately predicted the US Stock market for the last 10 years and predicted that Trump would win in 2016.

On Election day 8th Nov  2016 in the United States, I was interviewed on the Ed Tyll Radio Show about who would become the President – Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton (link to the interview is at

To answer this question, I utilized the same concept of disposable income that I had previously used for predicting the stock market accurately at SeekingAlpha and/or Yahoo Finance.  I explained why Donald Trump has a clear edge, though 95 percent of the US media predicted that Hillary would win.  

Disposable Income methodology:

Disposable income is the amount of money left from wages after spending on basic needs like housing, food, and fuel. This amount makes up most of the spending in a modern economy and a substantial part of a major stock exchange index is based on this discretionary spending. For over 10 years now, I have been predicting the US Stock Market accurately almost a year in advance, based on calculating the expected change in disposable income of the middle class, due to various macroeconomic conditions (SeekingAlpha articles here: https://seekingalpha.com/author/sanjeev-sharma#regular_articles ).

Elections and Disposable income:

People leave their families, friends and loved ones behind and move to other countries just for the sake of higher disposable incomes. The economy of many countries has changed from Capitalism to Communism and then back to Capitalism due to this fundamental desire of people. Governments and Presidents change based on the message they give to people about their programs for better wages.

In elections, usually, those candidates win who give a plan to voters on how their disposable incomes would increase. In the 2000 election in the US, Al Gore was not able to explain what he would do to increase the disposable income of masses, whereas George Bush clearly told that everyone will get a tax reduction. This helped George Bush. In 2008, Barack Obama explained he will help the struggling middle class by attacking the outsourcing of jobs to other countries and that helped him. In 2016 again, as I explained in my radio interview, Donald Trumps’ message to voters was much more clear and loud on how he will help increase their incomes.

India Elections, 2019 and Narendra Modi:

This election is between the ruling BJP led coalition (NDA), the Congress party-led alliance (UPA) and the third front composed of many regional parties.

Prime minister Narendra Modi of BJP has created a brand of strong leadership around him, but he has been accused of poor job growth and corruption in a defense deal. Congress party’s Rahul Gandhi has been branded as an emerging leader but for a long time, had been considered to be a naive young person who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

BJP also ruled India previously from 1999 to 2004 but despite the great economy and job growth, lost in 2004. From 2004 to 2014, the Congress-led UPA alliance ruled the government of India.

In India, the biggest mistake that the Vajpayee government did in the 2004 election was to run on a “Shining India” slogan. That slogan hurt feelings of poor people and farmers as they had not gained much from the IT revolution of the late 90s and early 2000s. Shining India slogan gave the impression that government is done with whatever it had to do and will continue on the same path and that path had not much for farmers and poor people.

Though Indian voters are quite complex and vote based on caste, religion, language, and region, the desire for higher disposable income is fundamental in all humans. Though voting pattern in a particular region would still depend on local conditions; we can assess the overall mood of people. This election is about Narendra Modi, who has displayed in the last 5 years that he can experiment with many new ideas. He has also displayed that he is a deeply religious person and has tried to win the Hindu votes. Narendra Modi won in 2014 because he gave a promise of “Achche Din” or “Better Days”. However, India now has the highest unemployment in the last 45 years.

Some of his ideas like demonetization and GST backfired badly. Fortunately for him, people have not seen the name of any strong alternative leader contending with him in the opposition. The opposition parties have not clearly announced who would be their Prime Minister if they win.  Except for the Congress party that has given an economic plan of the minimum wage for the very poor, other parties have not explained what they will do for the economy and the middle class.  The anti-BJP opposition’s votes will be split between Congress and the third front.

Modi has been accused of failing the economy and of corruption in the Rafael aircraft deal. However, he has been able to deflect attention from economy and jobs to other issues like national security or his love of using computer gadgets in the 1980s or that he likes eating mangoes or that he is a staunchly religious Hindu. Opposition got taken in by those issues and could not focus the narrative on corruption or economy. Many of them failed to understand that by discussing issues like Modi’s lack of knowledge in Radar-functioning etc, they are helping him change the narrative away from the core issues.

Coming back to Disposable income. Despite all allegations, Modi has given a stable and strong government and that impacts the voters based on their age.

I tried to analyze what % of the voting population would support Modi, based on the age group. This analysis is based on sampling and discussions. There are 3 groups I could clearly categorize (young less than 35 years of age, middle age between 40 and 50, and older above 50. I think between 35 and 40 are neither young nor middle age)

Young Voters < 35 years of age:

This group has only seen a strong India and has no memory of those days when India was forced to import basic food grains from other countries and when India faced a foreign exchange crisis. If you told them that Indians could get at most $500 once in 3 years from their central bank to travel abroad in the early 1990s, they would not believe. This group of people spends a large amount of time on TV, internet and social media, where BJP had a better presence than opposition for most of the last 5 years.  These voters are either looking for a job or recently started working. For them, a stable government is very important and would not like to vote for parties which have not even projected their PM candidate. A large part of this group is favoring Modi, and many simply out of fear of an uncertain future with an unknown Prime Minister.

Voters between 40 and 50 years of age:

Voters who are above 40 years of age are mostly settled in their professions or work and have seen earlier coalition governments. They are not in complete awe of Modi’s strong leadership and so they are equally divided.

Voters above 50 years of age:

People above 50 years of age have seen many different types of governments and are not generally worried about what could happen in case no party gets a clear majority. They would not easily forget their troubles during GST and Demonetization. This group of people understands the Indian democracy and constitution better than younger voters. This group is worried about allegations on Government of corruption and influencing the independence of other institutions like Election commission, CBI(similar to FBI in the US) or Supreme Court. They get a large part of the information by discussions and conversations and not just via electronic media.

If you take the demographics of India, most people are very young. Here is my analysis on the voter’s feelings, based on age:

Age group % of Population (approx) % of Voters % in favor of Modi Logic BJP/NDA Votes %
18-19 4 6 70 Young crowd influenced by Media and Modi’s speaches 4.2
20–24 10.4 15 60 Recent graduates/people looking for jobs want a stable government 7.7
25–29 9.7 14 60 Recent graduates/people looking for jobs or those who started working want a stable government 8.7
30–34 8.1 12 60 Young people  want a stable government 7.2
35–39 7.1 11 50 People who have seen Congress Economy from 2004 to 2014 remember better days 5.3
40–44 6.1 9 50 People who have seen many governments remember better days 4.5
45–49 5.3 8 40 People who have seen coalition governments previously are not worried about not having an alternative to Modi 3.2
50–54 4.3 6 40 People who have seen coalition governments previously are not worried about not having an alternative to Modi 2.6
55–59 3.6 5 40 People who have seen Congress Economy mostly 2.1
60–64 3.1 5 40 People who have seen Congress Economy mostly 1.8
65–69 2.2 3 40 People who have seen Congress Economy mostly 1.3
70–74 1.5 2 30 Old people remember Days after Independence and Congress work 0.7
75–79 0.9 1 30 Old people remember Days after Independence and Congress work 0.4
80–84 0.5 1 30 Old people remember Days after Independence and Congress work 0.2
85+ 0.3 0 30 Old people remember Days after Independence and Congress work 0.1
    Total-> 50.2

A calculation of 50.2% voters favoring Modi does not mean that actually, 50.2% votes will fall in favor of Modi. Only 65% of voters actually take the pain of going to voting booths, and voting skews based on caste and religion. However, the other 50% voters (against Modi) would be divided between Congress and 3rd Front. Overall, it does show that Narendra Modi has a clear edge in this election and he should win along with his coalition partners in NDA. Due to lack of clear message by the third front, they should expect to come third, behind BJP and Congress.

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Sanjeev Sharma

Consultant and Author of '5 Core Methods of Innovation'

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