The Congress has emerged victorious by effectively capitalising on the anti-incumbency sentiment prevailing in Karnataka. Employing a micro-focused campaign, the party was able to secure an absolute majority of 135 seats. How much did anti-incumbency play a role in shaping this outcome?
When asked whether they took into consideration the work done by the Basavaraj Bommai-led State government or the Narendra Modi-led Central government when deciding their vote, only one-seventh of the respondents considered the work done by the State government while casting their vote. One-fifth of the voters took into account both the Central and State governments while casting their vote. The work done by the MLAs in their respective local areas was given the least importance (Table 1).
The data suggest that there was discontentment with the performance of the BJP governments both in Karnataka and at the Centre. Approximately two-fifth of the voters expressed dissatisfaction, with one-fourth being fully dissatisfied. Almost an equal proportion of voters were displeased with the performance of the Modi-led BJP government at the Centre too (Table 2). This played a decisive role in the electoral choice as nearly 61% of the voters who were fully dissatisfied with the BJP government in Karnataka voted for the Congress (Table 3). Similarly, when asked about the performance of the Central government over the last four years, nearly 65% of those who were fully dissatisfied voted for the Congress (Table 4).
Thus, dissatisfaction with the government’s performance did matter, because even over four in every 10 respondents who were somewhat satisfied with the Modi government voted for the Congress.
Aaliyia Malik & Devesh Kumar are researchers at Lokniti-CSDS