How will BJP-JD(S) alliance impact Karnataka?
The JD (S)’s decision to join the NDA comes just about six months before the 2024 general elections.
On Friday, former Karnataka chief minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader H D Kumaraswamy announced that his party is now part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The JD (S)’s decision to join the NDA comes just about six months before the 2024 general elections and after the Congress’s victory in the Karnataka assembly elections. What are the likely political implications of the BJP-JD (S) alliance in Karnataka? Here are three charts which try to answer this question.
How does it change the caste-calculus in Karnataka?
The BJP and JD (S) are parties with a historic core-support base among Lingayats and Vokkaligas respectively. Lingayats and Vokkaligas are the two numerically dominant social groups in the state. If one looks at social-group wise vote share projections by Axis My India Exit poll for Karnataka – they got the vote shares and seat shares right – even in the 2023 assembly elections, the BJP and JD (S) had a big lead vis-a-vis the Congress among these two social groups and their coming together will further consolidate this advantage. However, the Congress had a massive advantage among Kurubas, Muslims and Dalits and was almost neck and neck with even the combined vote share of BJP and JD (S) among Scheduled Tribe (ST) voters.
How does it impact sub-regional politics in the state?
The JD (S) has mainly been a party in the southern part of Karnataka which is exactly the area where it has a long-standing rivalry with the Congress. There was not much of a BJP presence in the region until the 2018 Karnataka assembly elections. However, this changed in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when the Congress and the JD (S) fought in an alliance and the BJP won 25 out of the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies. The 2023 assembly elections only added to the JD(S)’s problems as their vote share even in the regional stronghold saw a two-way erosion -- to both the BJP and the Congress. Seen in this backdrop, the JD(S)’s decision to align with the BJP seems like a survival strategy.
Will it bring electoral gains for the BJP-JD(S) alliance?
Simple arithmetic suggests that it will. If one were to add the vote shares of BJP and JD (S) across all 224 assembly constituencies (ACs) in the 2023 Karnataka elections, the Congress’s tally of 135 would fall to 90. However, it is important to underline the fact that political alliances seldom result in a simple addition of votes of alliance partners. The Congress and the JD(S) learnt this the hard way in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when they could win only 47 out of the 224 AC segments whereas a simple addition of 2018 vote shares would have given them 152 ACs.