The Congress party has gained an unprecedented majority of 136 seats in Karnataka, the first time that such a lead has been given to any party in Karnataka since 1989. In light of this, many have asked whether the Bharat Jodo Yatra made any impact on this Karnataka Elections.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra, led by Rahul Gandhi, went from Kanyakumari to Kashmir through 12 states and took 146 days. The 3,500 KM march was an attempt by the party to change Gandhi’s public image, engage with the masses and garner support ahead of the 2024 general elections. Gandhi addressed multiple public meetings during which he targeted the ruling BJP.
On the other hand, terming Karnataka as their “gateway to the South”, BJP also campaigned in full swing in the lead-up to the elections, conducting public meetings, rallies and road shows.
The election results offer some insights on the impact of both campaigning efforts:
The Bharat Jodo Yatra
The Bharat Jodo Yatra passed through 21 Assembly Constituencies and 52 districts. Out of the 21 seats, BJP has only won 1 seat while Congress has won 16 seats, JDS has won 3 and others have won 1 seat. In 2018, BJP had won 12 seats, Congress had won only 5 seats while JDS had won 4. As per the district wise results, 5 seats were won by BJP, 38 by Congress, 8 by JDS, 1 by others. In 2018, 18 seats were won by BJP, 15 seats by Congress, 18 by JDS, and 1 by others.
All over the state, BJP vote share has largely remained the same while Congress vote share has increased by 5%. However, in the 21 constituencies affected by the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the Congress vote share has increased by 10% BJP’s vote share has decreased by 2%.
While this may be due to many other factors including anti-incumbency and local issues, it appears that the Bharat Jodo Yatra had a positive impact on the vote share of Congress.
How did Modi Rallies Fare?
On the other hand, Modi held big rallies or roadshows in 43 Assembly constituency seats, of which 19 seats were won by BJP, 22 by Congress and 2 by JDS. In 2018, BJP had won 22 of these seats, Congress had won 14 and JDS had won 7. The Congress has therefore gained 8 constituencies in the places where the BJP conducted large events while the BJP has lost 3 constituencies and JDS has lost 5 in these regions. Here, the BJP vote share has dropped by 3% while Congress vote share has increased by 5%.
While this alone may not suggest that the Modi rallies had a negative impact in these constituencies, it challenges the belief that Modi’s force of personality and charismatic speeches can switch the election results. The “Modi effect” cannot be seen on the Congress vote share.
Karnataka Elections have shown that a better connect with masses is needed to understand their issues for political parties and to consolidating the vote bank rather than media and campaign blitzkrieg.