Nash Equilibrium and Indian Politics

Nash Equilibrium and Indian Politics

By Anand Pandey (Anand Pandey <>)

The fundamental concept of an “equilibrium” in a game comes from the work of John Nash. The concept, known as Nash equilibrium, can be applied in Politics for any democratic election.

If you have studied economics, you can easily remember Prison’s dilemma example where two criminals have only one Nash equilibrium where both un-cooperate and defect.

For non-economic students, John Forbes Nash was an American mathematician widely famous in economics. Nash did Ph.D. in 1950 from Princeton University with only 28-page dissertation on non-cooperative games. Nash was Nobel Prize awarded and one Hollywood movie on his life was made called “A beautiful mind”. I suggest you to please review Nash Equilibrium & background for more details before you proceed with this article (Wiki & Movie).

In the Indian election context, let us take one example and certain assumptions for simplicity before we analysed the all possible equilibrium and Nash equilibrium. This article is an attempt to answer certain prevailing drawbacks in Indian democracy and why politics reform is almost impossible for candidates being on honest path unless you believe in some miracle.

Let us consider that there is a Lok Sabha election in 2019 at some constituency, say, Gandhinagar. There are two main contestants for two national major parties. E.g. BJP (“B”) & Congress (“C”). There is one more very good potential independent candidate (“I”) based on his social career and interested to continue his social service by joining politics but not by joining political party. Let us recognize them by the first letter: B, C and I. There are other candidates but those are not very significant to win the election.

During election time, all three candidates have two paths:

H:  Being honest on their own social profile so far and make genuine promises if they win the election (say, “H”)

DH: Dis-honest on their own social profile, share false allegations on other candidates, make ungenuine big promises & freebies with people if they win the election (say, “DH”)

For simplicity, let us assume that “B” and “C” candidates opt for the honest & dis-honest path together. It means, “BC” either choose honest path or dishonest path but there is no possibility that one opts for honest and another for dis-honest path at the same time.  Another assumption is that, it is well known that “I” is good candidate and willing to join politics to continue his social services being in the services.

In the above example, all possible strategies can be shown in the matrix as below:

Honest Dis-Honest
Honest BC-H, I-H BC-DH, I-H
Dis-Honest BC-H, I-DH BC-DH, I-DH


We can analyse all four scenarios from the above matrix to see the best equilibrium for contested candidates:

Scenario-1 (BC-H, I-H): This is an ideal scenario for any democracy when all candidates “B”, “C” and “I” are honest on their social profiles and making honest promises to the people what can be done if they win the election. This scenario is unlikely as any one candidate can opt for dis-honest path and take the advantages by making false promises with people. Why people will choose candidates who are promising less than the candidate who making promises for everything?

Scenario-2 (BC-DH, I-H): This scenario is realistic scenario when any ideal or honest person wants to enter into the politics with honesty but other candidates from traditional parties are dishonest and making false promises such as big hospitals, schools, jobs etc. to lure the people votes. Candidate “I” knows limit of the MP Funds & tenure and strict to the genuine promises. People again decide either candidate “B” or “C” based on If-Then kind of promises rather than realistic fewer promises by “I”.  This scenario is a realistic scenario (not very frequent) but always disappointing for honest candidates.

Scenario-3 (BC-H, I-DH): This is bit unrealistic scenario when candidates “B” or “C” from national parties with many years of experiences are fully honest on their social profiles & promises and one independent candidates based on dishonesty can make advantages to lure the people votes. This is also unrealistic in the sense that candidate “B” or “C” will talk about their own social profile rather than talking about own party, central leadership face etc. This scenario is also ruled out and cannot be best equilibrium in Indian politics.

Scenario-4 (BC-DH, I-DH): Considering the above scenarios where any candidate on honest path cannot be stable or unrealistic scenario, this is most prominent scenario in Indian politics when everyone dis-honest on their own social profile, make false allegations on other candidates and do big false promises like big hospitals, schools, jobs etc to the people to win the elections. In this scenario, candidates “B” or “C” will have advantage of party funds and party volunteers for campaign but candidate “I” has no other option except be dishonest and fight the election with his own resources & money.

This is the scenario when no other candidate can be better by choosing any alternate path. Then such a scenario in Indian politics is called Nash Equilibrium.

Honest Dis-Honest
Honest BC-H, I-H BC-DH, I-H
Dis-Honest BC-H, I-DH BC-DH, I-DH



This article demonstrates the best optimal strategy in Indian politics and why it does not allow any good independent candidates to enter into the politics and win the election. It does not mean that only way to win the election is being dis-honest but it definitely says that what are the realistic & sustainable strategy to win the election in Indian democracy. This paper does not discourage good people to enter into the politics but explains why honest people can not win the election easily. If purpose is to serve the country and do social services, there are other way to do without entering into the politics and has not been covered in this paper.


Written by Anand Pandey, Founder – FARF (

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