BJP has retained 13 Lok Sabha seats, JD(S) one, and Congress none consistently since 2009

Every election is different and the BJP entering into an alliance with JD(S) shows they concede the party is not as strong as it was in 2019 in Karnataka, say psephologists

Updated - April 12, 2024 10:47 am IST

Published - April 11, 2024 08:15 pm IST - Bengaluru

BJP workers celebrating the victory of a candidate in Mangaluru in 2019.

BJP workers celebrating the victory of a candidate in Mangaluru in 2019. | Photo Credit: File photo

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has consistently led the seat tally in Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka since 2004. If the 2009 Lok Sabha elections is taken as the cut off, as that was the first election after delimitation of seats in 2008, the BJP has never lost 13 seats. The JD(S) has won one seat consistently, while the Congress does not have even a single seat that it has consistently won during this period. 

The seats which the BJP never lost are: Bagalkot, Bengaluru South, Bengaluru North, Bengaluru Central, Belagavi, Vijayapura, Davanagere, Dharwad, Haveri, Koppal, Shivamogga, Uttara Kannada, and Dakshina Kannada. The JD(S) has won Hassan consistently.

Having been reduced to one seat in the 2019 parliamentary polls, the Congress lost many of its “safe seats” that year. Before 2019, Kalaburagi, Kolar, Chamarajanagar, Chickballapur, besides Bengaluru Rural, the sole seat they won in 2019, were considered safe seats for the Congress. 

While this clearly shows that the BJP begins the ongoing Lok Sabha polls campaign with an advantage, psephologists and political experts warn that every election is different.

What the alliance shows

“The very fact that BJP has entered into a pre-poll alliance with the JD(S) shows that they have conceded that the party in the Karnataka is not as strong as in 2019 when they won a historic 25 seats. While the Congress is on the upswing, it needs to be seen whether they will break the jinx and win double digits seats in the State for the first time after 1999,” said political analyst A. Narayana, who teaches at School of Policy and Governance, Azim Premji University. 

Political scientist Sandeep Shastri of Lokniti Network said every election is different and the BJP has secured more seats in successive Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka for a host of circumstantial reasons, and hence, it would be wrong to assume the same trend would continue.

“In 2004, the Lok Sabha and Vidhana Sabha elections were held together and the people of Karnataka rejected the Congress in both. The BJP emerged big on the State’s scene for the first time then. The 2009 Lok Sabha elections were held after the BJP came to power for the first time in the State, giving the party an advantage. From 2014, it has been helped by the ‘Modi factor’, which was the highest in 2014. Six out of 10 voters who voted for the BJP said they voted for Mr. Modi, highest for any State in 2014, as per the Lok Neeti-CSDS survey back then. But this has seen a slight decline since then,” he explained. 

Mr. Narayana also said that ever since the BJP came to power in Delhi in the 1990s, the party has taken Lok Sabha elections more seriously, even as there seems to have been a lackadaisical approach in the Congress over Lok Sabha polls.

Congress then and now

“The Congress, which lacks a strong central leadership, unlike the BJP, seems to be fighting the Lok Sabha polls as a sum of the strength of their MLAs even when Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power for a decade. Many times, especially when the wind seems against them, MLAs do not invest themselves fully in Lok Sabha polls and the party has failed to hold them accountable as well in the State,” he said. He added, however, that the Congress seems to be fighting the current polls with more cohesiveness, strategy, and ambition than the last few polls. 

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