The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost deposits in 31 constituencies — 13.8% of the seats the party contested — in the recently concluded Karnataka Assembly elections. Notably, the party won 66 seats in the election, which is 29.5% of the seats contested. These two data points make for interesting reading, for when read together, they hint at a state of dichotomy in Karnataka. More importantly, when compared to all the recent State elections in which the BJP won a significant share of seats, Karnataka is a clear outlier in terms of the share of seats in which it lost deposits.
According to the provisions outlined in the Representation of the People Act of 1951, it is mandatory for general category candidates competing in an Assembly election to deposit Rs. 10,000 and Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) candidates to deposit half of that. In order to retrieve their deposits, candidates must secure a minimum of one-sixth (16.67%) of the total votes polled in their constituency. While the deposits were introduced to reduce the number of candidates competing, they later turned into a matter of pride with those losing deposits facing humiliation.
Scatter Plot 1 | In the horizontal axis, the chart shows the seats won by the BJP as a share of the seats it contested in all the recent State elections. In the vertical axis, the seats in which the BJP lost deposits as a share of seats it contested is plotted.
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As can be observed from the chart, in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Mizoram, Punjab, Kerala and Meghalaya, where the BJP won less than 5% of the seats, it lost deposit in more than 70% of the seats. This is an understandable outcome. Given that the party was routed in these States, it was expected to lose deposits too in many of them. On the other hand, in all the States where it had won more than 10% of the seats, the share of seats in which deposits were lost was understandably low.
Scatter Plot 2 | The chart shows the States where the BJP won more than 10% of seats and plots the seats won by the BJP as a share of the seats it contested in all the recent State elections (horizontal axis) and the seats in which the BJP lost deposits as a share of seats it contested is plotted (vertical axis).
As shown in Scatter Plot 2, it is in the States where the BJP own more than 10% of seats that the party’s performance in Karnataka stands out. The 13.8% of seats where it lost deposits in Karnataka is the highest among these States, with Goa coming close with 12.5%. Among the major States, Odisha is a distant second where the BJP lost deposits in 8.8% of seats. Interestingly, in West Bengal, where the BJP won 26.3% of the seats in the recent elections, it lost deposits in only 3.8% of the seats. In Gujarat, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Delhi, it did not lose deposit even in one seat in the recent polls. Of the 22 States in which the BJP won more than 10% of the seats, in 16 it lost deposits in less than 5% of seats. So, clearly, the BJP Karnataka results were an outlier.
Scatter Plot 3 | In this chart, the size of the circle corresponds to the seats contested by the BJP as a percentage of seats available in a State. The bigger the circle, the higher the share of seats competed by the BJP.
Scatter Plot 3 adds another dimension to Scatter Plot 2. As can be noted, the share of seats contested by the BJP in Tamil Nadu was relatively low, due to alliance equations with the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. Possibly because the BJP contested in only select seats, it managed not to lose deposit even in one, despite being a relatively weak party in the southern State.
Chart 4 | The chart shows the seats in which the BJP lost deposits as a share of the seats it contested across regions of Karnataka.
The BJP lost deposits in 38.4% of the seats it contested in Southern Karnataka, the highest such share among all regions.
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Source: Political Career Tracker, Trivedi Centre of Political Data, Ashoka University
Also read: After Karnataka, more lessons for the BJP
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