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BJP-JD(S) Alliance Wins, Congress Improves Tally: Key Takeaways From Karnataka

Though the BJP-JD(S) alliance bagged 19 out of 28 seats, Siddaramaiah-led Congress improved its tally from 1 to 9.

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Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance emerged victorious in 19 out of 28 constituencies in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the ruling Congress has improved its tally by winning nine seats as opposed to securing one seat in 2019.

While the BJP has won 17 seats, the JD(S) secured victory in two out of the three constituencies. As of 9:00 pm, the BJP's vote share is at 46.06% and around 45.43% for the Congress.

Karnataka, the BJP's Hindutva stronghold in South India, witnessed a high-stakes battle between the party's 'Modi ki Guarantee' pitched against Siddaramaiah-led ruling Congress’ five guarantee scheme. The BJP had hoped for a clean sweep like in the 2019 elections when it bagged 26 seats.

However, the mixed mandate indicates the rollback of the saffron agenda and the emergence of voices for federalism.

From Bengaluru Rural to Hassan, Karnataka threw up some interesting results and saw some major upsets for both the BJP and Congress. Let's take a look:

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'Modi Factor', Alliance With JD(S) & Anti-Incumbency: What Worked For BJP 

The BJP has been riding on not just the Hindutva sentiment in the communally sensitive areas of coastal Karnataka, but also on the prime minister's 'development' pitch of "Deshakke Modi, Dakshinakke Surya (Modi for India, Surya for South)" slogan.

One factor that helped the party maintain its winning streak, was to deny tickets to incumbent BJP MPs in parts of coastal and rural Karnataka, where there was severe anti-incumbency and anger. This helped them win all four seats.

In Dakshina Kannada, the BJP's MP Nalin Niranjan Shetty Kateel was replaced by Captain Brijesh Chowta. Chowta won by a margin of over 1.49 lakh votes. Interestingly, even in the Assembly elections, the BJP had won 13 of the 16 Assembly constituencies here indicating the extent of the BJP’s domination in the region.

Adding on, continuing to support popular leaders, such as Jagadish Shettar and Pralhad Joshi, the BJP managed to retain key constituencies like Belagavi and neighbouring Hubbali-Dharwad respectively.

The party was also able to consolidate the Lingayat votes. The dominant Vokkaliga community in the Old Mysore region, which backed the Congress in the 2023 Assembly elections, seem to have supported the BJP and the JD(S) in this election.

In 2023, the Congress had scripted its revival in thiss region by winning nearly 37 out of the 59 segments spread across nine districts. But now, the BJP has won four out of five seats in Tumkur, Mysore, Mandya and Chikkballapur by a margin of over one lakh. The Congress won only Chamarajanagar (Reserved) and Hassan seats.

Meanwhile, Bengaluru continued to remain a saffron bastion sweeping all four Lok Sabha seats.

The BJP has also managed to consolidate votes from the urban belts. It is evident with the victory of two-time MP Shobha Karandlaje, who faced “Go Back, Shobha” slogans in her earlier constituency (Udupi-Chikmagaluru) but won in Bengaluru North.

But, its victory in Mysuru and the Dharwad-Hubballi indicate the rising upper-caste support for the party.

One of the biggest surprises so far has been the win of Dr C Manjunath, the son-in-law of JD(S) leader and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, from Bengaluru Rural. Manjunath, fielded as a BJP candidate, ended the 10-year reign of state Congress chief DK Shivakumar’s brother DK Suresh.

Fight For Survival For JD(S): Did Alliance Help?

For the JD(S), the alliance with the BJP was a matter of survival after its dismal performance in 2023 Assembly polls.

The JD(S) appealed to the Vokkaliga community, over much of which it retains its sway, especially in South Karnataka. HD Kumaraswamy was able to win in Mandya by a margin of 2.84 lakh votes.

But a surprise loss was Hassan, where his nephew and rape-accused Prajwal Revanna lost from the Gowda family's home constituency.

It is unclear to say if it impacted the way Karnataka voted in the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections in the state or not.

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Three Factors That Helped the Congress

Securing around 45% of the votes, the Congress in Karnataka significantly improved its vote share from 2019, when it had just registered 32%.

This was mainly due to three factors:

  • The Congress was riding on its victory after it came back to power in May 2023 the state winning 135 out of 224 seats. This time, it hoped to continue its streak, but was only able to do so in nine seats.

  • As soon as it came to power, the Congress worked on the implementation of the five guarantees (free electricity, free bus passes, monthly rations and Rs 2,000 a month). What helped was its welfare schemes that appealed to women, minorities and and rural voters.

  • However, the guarantees seem to have drawn voters to vote for the party, but was not enough to translate it to ensuring their victories.

  • A key factor that may have helped the party was also bringing up the issue of the alleged step-motherly treatment that the state was seen as receiving, especially in allocations of central funds.

Out of the nine seats Congress won, five are from the Kalyan Karnataka region — Bidar, Kalaburagi, Raichur, Koppal and Ballari. It is a massive win as its candidates, including Mallikarjun Kharge himself, were defeated by BJP candidates in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Of the six Vokkaliga candidates fielded by the Congress, only Shreyas Patel Gowda won in Hassan.

However, the biggest surprise is the defeat of DK Suresh, brother of DK Shivakumar. To add on, the defeat of the Congress in the Old Mysore region is considered as a major setback to Shivakumar, who has tried to emerge as a strong non-JD(S) Vokkaliga leader.

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