Karnataka 2018

Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018: How far is Congress from retaining power?

By many accounts and opinion polls, the outcome of the Karnataka Assembly elections is a close call. Barring a period of coalition rule between 2004 and 2008 due to a hung Assembly in 2004, the State has not returned the incumbent to power since 1985. So what would it take for the Congress to beat the odds (as history suggests) and retain power in vote share terms?

The question has to be answered keeping the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as a base when all three major contesting parties were intact. That is because, for the 2013 elections, the BJP leader B.S. Yedyurappa floated his own party and contested the election separately, rendering it a four-cornered contest, an exception to the traditionally three-party tussle since 2004.

Crucial swing away

Our analysis shows that it would take a uniform swing of at least 5% points away from the BJP since the 2014 election for the Congress to breach the majority mark.


In elections since 1994, only once did the victor breach the 40% mark (the Congress in 1999 to win 132 seats). In recent elections, the victor (the BJP in 2008 with 33.9% of the votes and 110 seats; the Congress in 2013 with 36.6% of the votes and 122 seats) managed a relatively lower vote share and won the majority because of the presence of a viable third force in the Janata Dal (Secular) which consistently managed close to 20% of the vote share and hence won a chunk of the opposition share of seats.

In 2013, the BJP had also split and this had affected the party’s prospects despite only a 2% point increase in the Congress’ vote share.

A look at JD(S)’s performance across the five regions in the State shows that it has consistently been a major factor in southern Karnataka. Ground reports suggest that the party will continue to be a force to reckon with in this election as well (See Table 1 for 2013 and 2014 elections).

That said, the JD(S) suffered a major drop in its vote share (despite doing relatively well in southern Karnataka) in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The BJP had by then overcome its factional issues and chief ministerial candidate B.S. Yeddyurappa’s Karnataka Janata Paksha was back in its fold. This helped the party get a 43% vote share and helped it overcome the Congress’ 40.8%. The JD(S) share came down to 11%. The BJP led in 132 (of the 224 Assembly segments), the Congress in 77 and the JD(S) in 15.

Across regions

For the Congress to win a majority again (113 seats and above), it would require at least a 5% swing away from the BJP’s share of 43% since 2014. This swing would be shared unequally by the Congress and the JD(S) across all regions with the JD(S) expected to get a much bigger share in southern Karnataka. The region-wise break-up in such a scenario is shown in Table 2.

This exercise assumes that the vote share of the JD(S) will not reach levels reached in 2013. If, as some opinion polls suggest, the JD(S) does manage to win a vote share close to 20%, the swing toward the Congress will be much reduced, thereby denying it a simple majority.

(Data inputs from T Ramakrishnan and Varun B Krishnan)

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 10:05:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/karnataka-2018/karnataka-assembly-elections-2018-how-far-is-congress-from-retaining-power/article23841476.ece

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