Karnataka Polls: BJP never won majority on its own; win or loss, Congress always had better vote share

The BJP vote share grew over the years but could never manage to get a majority on its own
Last Updated : 23 April 2023, 14:37 IST

Follow Us :


The vote-share each party garnered in the past Karnataka Assembly elections tells a curious story.

The BJP vote share grew over the years but could never manage to get a majority on its own, owing to its votes concentrated in certain regions and not able to garner enough votes in regions dominated by its opponents.

On the contrary, Congress with a pan-Karnataka presence would walk away with the major share of votes in all elections but a poor conversion rate undoes its benefits while the split in Janata Parivar over the years has impacted JD(S).

How the latest round of election plays out would be known only on May 13 and it is to be seen whether the saffron party manages to increase its vote share in the Vokkaliga belt, including Mandya, to trouble its opponents while it is to be seen whether Congress breaks the jinx.


After its formation, the BJP fought the first polls in Karnataka in 1983 when it got 7.93 per cent votes fighting 110 seats and winning 18 but the next two elections in 1985 and 1989 saw a decline – winning just 2 seats out of 116 seats contested with a vote share of 3.88% in 1985 and bagging four out of 118 with 4.14 per cent.

The 1994 elections saw the BJP increasing its vote share to 16.99 per cent (40 out of 223). Five years later, it increased its vote share to 20.69 per cent but contested only 149 seats and won 44.

The year 2004 actually placed the BJP in the ruling circle becoming the single largest party title by winning 79 out of 198 seats with 28.33 per cent votes. Four years later, BJP recorded its highest win of 110 seats, three less than simple majority, out of 223 it fought with a vote share of 33.86 per cent.

In 2013, but the BJP fell to a dismal 40 (against 223) with a vote share of 19.89 per cent while in 2018 it again regained its lost ground winning 104 seats with a 36.22 per cent vote share, its highest so far.


Congress – whether it managed to form a government or not – always took the major share of votes, leaving BJP and JD(S) or its previous avatars Janata Dal and Janata Party since the 1983 state polls except for 1985 polls.

It never fell below the 25 per cent mark in vote share – the worst being 26.95 per cent in 1994 when it won just 34 out of 221 seats it contested while in the 1980s it managed to garner over 40 per cent votes: 1983 – 40.22 per cent, 1985 – 43.76 per cent and 1989 – 43.76 per cent.

Congress rose like a phoenix in 1999 once again crossing the 40% mark to win 132 out of 222 seats it contested with 40.84 per cent votes, the highest in 40 years. Again in 2004, its seats came down by half at 65 with a vote share of 35.72 per cent while in 2008, it won more seats (80) but the vote share further declined to 34.76 per cent.

When Congress once again regained the majority in 2013 with 122 seats, its vote share rose to 36.59 per cent. In 2018, the seats came down to 80 but the vote share rose to 38.04 per cent.

In 2004, 2008 and 2018, the number of seats Congress won were less than that of the BJP though the former has a better vote share.


The Janata Parivar contested the elections in various avatars since 1983 with Janata Party contesting managing to become the single largest party winning 95 seats to form a government with a vote share of 33.07 per cent, seven percentage points down from Congress.

Two years later, the Janata Party will romp home with a thumping 139 seats contesting 205 seats and garnering 43.60 per cent. In 1989, it was Janata Dal which contested the election but it was decimated to 24 seats with a vote share of 27.08 per cent.

Five years down the line, the Janata Dal won 115 seats in 1994 with a vote share of 33.54 per cent but in 1999, the party split and HD Deve Gowda-led JD(S) became the mainstream party from the Janata Parivar but it could win only 10 seats with a vote share of 10.42 per cent.

However since 2004, the JD(S) has managed to hover around 20 per cent vote share. In 2004, it won 58 seats with 20.77 per cent while in 2008, it declined to 28 seats and 18.96 per cent. In 2013, it was 40 seats with a vote share of 20.19% and 37 seats in 2018 with a vote share of 18.36 per cent.

Published 23 April 2023, 10:42 IST

Follow us on :

Follow Us