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Why Congress gained vote share but lost seats | India News

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The decline of the Congress tally from 122 seats in 2013 to just 78 this time round may suggest a significant anti-incumbency factor was at work in Karnataka, but a look at the vote shares of the various parties belies this assumption. The fact is that the Congress actually polled a higher voteshare of 38% in these elections than it did in 2013 when it got 36.6%.

In fact, despite winning 26 seats less than BJP, the Congress ended up with almost two percentage points more in terms of vote share. What defeated it was the fact that the BJP, which was a divided house five years ago managed to get both former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa and ex-rebel leader Sriramulu back into its fold, thus consolidating its vote.

The consolidation alone, however, would not have achieved this result for the BJP since between them all three components in 2013 had just about 32% of votes. Thus, the party has also been able to garner a swing of about four percentage points in its favour. Also working for it was the fact that its votes were less scattered than the Congress. Thus it was able to convert votes into seats much more effectively.


The JD(S) won just 18.3% of votes, almost two percentage points lower than its share of 20.2% in 2013, but it too had a more effective conversion of votes to seats than the Congress. That’s because the party is mainly confined to the southern Vokkaligadominated parts of the state and has only a scattered presence elsewhere (see graphic).

A regional analysis shows that the Congress got more votes than the BJP in Hyderabad-Karnataka, the northeastern part of the state, and in Old Mysore, which is the southern part. Between them, these two regions account for 99 seats. In all other regions, however, the BJP had a higher vote share. In terms of its performance vis a vis 2013, the Congress gained vote share in Old Mysore, Hyderabad-Karnataka and Bombay-Karnataka (the north-western part of the state), but lost ground in the remaining three regions including the state capital.


Data also shows that the Congress outscored the BJP in voteshare in the rural seats and in the rurban seats, but was outgunned in the urban ones. In fact, the biggest gap between the two parties was in the 20 rurban seats where the Congress got 38.7% against the BJP’s 32.3%. Yet both finished with seven of these seats.

There was an interesting inversion in the reserved seats. In the seats reserved for SC candidates, the Congress got a higher vote share than the BJP, but won fewer seats (12 against 16). In the ST reserved seats, on the other hand, the BJP got a higher vote share but won only 6 seats compared to the Congress’ 8.

Incidentally, in the 120 Lingayat-dominated seats, the Congress did increase its vote share compared to 2013, from 35.9% to 38.1%. However, the scale of this increase is not very different from the overall increase it registered across all the state’s seats. That would suggest the attempt to woo a section of Lingayats either did not work at all or at best worked only marginally. In any case, the BJP’s vote share of 40.6% in these seats was more than enough to outweigh any increase in Congress vote share.

Updated: May 15, 2018 — 9:06 pm

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