Decoding Bharat Jodo Yatra’s impact on Karnataka elections | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Decoding Bharat Jodo Yatra’s impact on Karnataka elections

May 14, 2023 05:48 PM IST

The Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party traveled through 21 assembly constituencies in Karnataka

A sharp increase in strike rate and vote share -- that is the impact of the Bharat Jodo yatra in Karnataka. The 2023 Karnataka elections are the first in a state which was covered in the 146 days long Bharat Jodo Yatra led by the former Congress president Rahul Gandhi. The Yatra travelled 511km in Karnataka over 22 days between Gundlupet constituency and Raichur Rural constituency. Here is what a data analysis of the results tells us about the march’s impact on the Congress’s performance in these elections. To be sure, there could be other factors responsible for the better strike rate and higher vote share in constituencies through which the march passed, and correlation isn’t causation.

Rahul Gandhi during Bharat Jodo Yatra with DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah, in Chitradurga. (Congress Twitter)
Rahul Gandhi during Bharat Jodo Yatra with DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah, in Chitradurga. (Congress Twitter)

Congress strike rate shows a massive increase in ACs covered by the Yatra

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The Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party traveled through 21 assembly constituencies in Karnataka. The march did not focus on Congress strongholds but instead traveled through constituencies that the BJP won in 2018, spending time in 12 won by the BJP, 5 by the Congress, and 4 by JD(S) in 2018. The Congress leadership viewed the Yatra as a way to unite the country, but it also energized the local party cadre. The Congress won 16 of the 21 ACs that the Yatra passed through, up from 5 in 2018. This figure in​​cludes Melukote where Congress did not contest but supported Darshan Puttannaiah from Sarvodaya Karnataka Paksha.​​ In terms of strike rate – seats won as a share of seats contested – the Congress’ has improved from 24% in 2018 to 76% in 2023 in these ACs. The Congress’s strike rate in the remaining 203 ACs has also increased -- from 37% to 59%.

Did the Yatra result in a vote share advantage for the Congress?

Overall, the Congress won 43% of the votes. Its vote shares were highest in the Bombay Karnataka and Hyderabad Karnataka regions. Its vote share in this election was 2.9% higher in constituencies that the Bharat Jodo Yatra passed through compared to those that it did not. And when comparing the yatra constituencies to 28 bordering constituencies that did not have the Yatra pass through, the differential in vote share was 2.5% . This suggests that the Bharat Jodo Yatra may have mobilised party workers and voters for the party. Because the Congress did not focus on its strongholds in their Yatra, it ended up making inroads. In absolute terms, in the 21 constituencies that the yatra passed through, the Congress’ vote share increased by 10 percentage points on average. The highest increase was in Molakalmuru where the Congress’ vote share increased from 22% to 54%.

Chart giving median vote share of Congress in ACs covered and not-covered by BJY in 2008, 2013, 2018 and 2023

Resuf Ahmed is a Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at HEC Lausanne, Currently Visiting: Stanford University. Feyaad Allie is Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at Stanford University, Incoming Post-Doc and Assistant Professor of Government at Harvard University

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