Lok Sabha polls 2024: Numbers reveal tale of the tape for BJP-led NDA and Congress-led INDIA bloc

Reduced head-to-head fights with the BJP, regional matchups helped Congress and the INDIA bloc allies flip the country's two biggest states and do better in others, while South India gave the BJP more reasons to smile.
(Top) Members for the NDA meet at PM Modi's residence in New Delhi; (Bottom) Members of the INDIA bloc meet at Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge's residence in New Delhi.
(Top) Members for the NDA meet at PM Modi's residence in New Delhi; (Bottom) Members of the INDIA bloc meet at Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge's residence in New Delhi.Photo | PTI

While the BJP continues to assert formidable dominance against its principal rival in direct electoral contests, the Congress party has demonstrated notable strides in its performance compared to its dismal showing in the 2019 elections.

Through strategic seat-sharing with key INDIA bloc allies and regional partners, the grand old party contested in fewer seats than it did in 2019, thereby reducing the frequency of head-to-head fights against the BJP.

This not only aided the party to improve on its 2019 performance but also bolstered the coalition's regional giants in their quest to wrestle more seats away from the BJP-led NDA's kitty.

Overall, Congress had contested 423 seats in 2019, winning a mere 52 seats with a strike rate of 12.29%. However, it rose to 30.18% after it reduced the number of seats to 328, falling one short of 100 wins in 2024.

In 2024, the national heavyweights faced off in 215 seats, with the BJP still coming out on top with 153 seats, while the Congress won 62. This is a 400% increase in its own tally when compared to the dismal 15 seats it had won in head-to-head fights during the 2019 general elections.

Seat 'redistribution' flips UP, Maharashtra for INDIA

In Uttar Pradesh, the number of direct contests between the two parties decreased dramatically, from 65 seats in 2019 to just 17 seats in 2024.

Of the 65 direct battles in 2019, the BJP ran away with 64 seats, while the Congress could only retain its bastion of Rae Bareli. In 2024, the going got better for the Congress, which won 6 out of the 17 seats it went up against the BJP. This helped the Congress's strike rate improve to 35% from a mere 2%, while the BJP's hit rate fell to 65% from 80%.

The reduced seats also had a ripple effect on its ally, the Samajwadi Party, which contested 63 seats of the state's 80 seats and demonstrated a more dominant strike rate against the BJP in direct battles this time. The SP won 37 of the 63 seats it contested, bettering its best performance from 2004, with 35 of those wins coming in direct fights with the BJP.

What's equally interesting is that the vote share of the NDA and INDIA bloc ended up being closer than expected, with the NDA dropping to 45% from the 51.19% it had in 2019 and INDIA rising to 43.52%. The BJP's vote share also dropped to 41.37 from the 49.98% it had in 2019, while the Samajwadi Party's share rose from 18.11% to 33.59%. The Congress, which had a 6.36% share in 2019, rose to 9.46% this time.

In Maharashtra, the Congress won 13 seats out of the 17 seats it contested this time. In these, direct contests with the BJP decreased to just one seat, from 16 in 2019 to 15 seats in 2024. However, the party showed a significant improvement in its strike rate of 66.6% (10 seats) from a grim 6% it had in 2019.

The seat-sharing arrangements also proved advantageous for the MVA allies, SHS(UBT) and NCP(SP), to prevail over the breakaway factions of SHS (Eknath Shinde) and NCP (Ajit Pawar).

In the faceoff between the Uddhav Thackeray camp and the Eknath Shinde faction, the former secured victory in seven out of the 13 seats they contested against each other, while the Sharad Pawar camp emerged triumphant in both seats it contested against the Ajit Pawar faction. The numbers have set the stage for what could be an intense few months ahead of the assembly elections in Maharashtra.

Jat alignment helps Congress in Rajasthan, Haryana

In Rajasthan, the seat-sharing equation with regional allies once again helped the Congress-led opposition's improved performance in the state, even though it was involved in only one less direct battle against the BJP, from 24 seats in 2019 to 22 seats this time.

However, social engineering worked in its favour as the Congress not only swept all four seats in the Jat-dominated Shekhawati, thereby improving its strike rate from 0 to a significant 36.3%, while the BJP's hit rate dropped from a perfect 100% to 63.6%.

In Haryana, which also goes to polls later this year, the Congress' vote share and strike rate grew despite only a solitary reduction in direct contests against the BJP, from 10 in 2019 to 9 in 2024.

The party's hit rate rose by 55.5% after failing to win a single seat in 2019, thereby reducing the BJP's to 44.4%. It made significant gains, wresting 5 of the 10 Lok Sabha seats, with a strong showing in the Jat-dominated Deswali belt, once a Congress stronghold.

The Congress increased its vote share at the BJP's expense as it rose from 28.42% in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls to 43.7% in 2024. The BJP's vote share fell from 58.2% in 2019 and came down to 46.11% in this year's polls.

However, the seat-sharing experiment failed here as AAP failed to win the only seat it had contested against the BJP.

BJP slumps but Paltu Chacha, NDA allies save Bihar

Expectations were high for the opposition in Bihar, a state where the opposition's grand alliance idea has been tried and tested, with good to mixed rewards. On the face of it this year's results were sub-optimal for the RJD-led mahaghatbandhan which had to settle for nine seats. But, this was still a substantial improvement in a state where the NDA swept the state in 2019, winning 39 of the 40 seats.

On the other hand, it was Nitish Kumar's JD(U) along with Chirag Paswan's LJP(Ram Vilas) that carried the BJP this time, unlike in 2019 where all the NDA members came out with strong showing.

In 2019, the BJP and the undivided LJP achieved a 100% strike rate, winning all 17 and 6 Lok Sabha seats they had contested, respectively, while the JD(U) had a 94% hit rate, winning all but one of the 17 seats it contested. However, the BJP's strike rate dropped to 70.5% with the party winning just 12 of the 17 seats it had contested this time. The grass was slightly greener in Nitish's camp, with the JD(U) striking at 75%, winning 12 of the 16 LS seats it contested in 2024.

The one constant for the NDA in both these elections has been a Paswan-led party, with the LJP(RV) achieving a 100% strike rate by winning all 5 seats it contested in 2024. In doing so, Chirag not only maintained the NDA's dominance but also solidified his position as the heir to his father Ram Vilas Paswan's legacy, sidelining his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras, who was not offered a seat by the NDA this time. Meanwhile, wins for ex-Bihar CM and HAM(S) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi and RLM chief Upendra Kushwaha took the NDA's numbers to 31 with their wins in 2024, 8 short of the alliance's performance in 2019.


NDA reaps big rewards from Telugu states

In Telangana, the ruling Congress, the BJP and the BRS faced off in a three-way contest in all 17 seats, with the national parties securing 8 seats each, with the AIMIM retained its Hyderabad citadel.

Interesting, both national juggernauts saw an improvement in their strike rate, with both the BJP and Congress' strike rate at 47% individually, which is up from the 2019 figures of 24% and 18%, respectively. And their rise coincided with the continuing slump of the KCR-led BRS, which failed to win a single seat, after being ousted from office in November last year.

In Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu's TDP carried NDA allies BJP and JSP to dominant win in both the assembly and general elections, delivering a hammer blow to the incumbent YSRCP government on both fronts.

The TDP struck at 94% winning 16 of the 17 seats it contested this year, a massive improvement from the 12% hit rate from 2019, when it won just three seats against YSRCP in direct battle for the state's all 25 Lok Sabha seats.

Meanwhile, the BJP, which rode on Naidu's coattails this year, opened it account for the first tine in the divided Andhra, winning three of the six seats it contested, striking at 50%. Pawan Kalyan's JSP too benefitted winning both seats it contested in 2024.

Meanwhile, anti-incumbency relegated the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led outfit to four LS seats this time, slumping woeful 16% strike, compared to its 88% conversion rate in 2019 where it won 22 of the 25 seats.

Non-alignment pays dividends for Congress in Karnataka

In Karnataka, the Congress faced BJP in 25 of the 28 seats, won 8 of those, helping the party improve its tally to nine seats in this year's polls, eight more than what it won in 2019.

In 2019, the party had contested in an alliance with JD(S), with the latter contesting seven of the 28 seats. This time, the Congress, which, came to power in the state in 2023, contested all 28 seats and it clearly helped the party break the saffron wave, with its hit rate rising to 32% in 2024 from 4.7% five years ago. The BJP, which joined hands with the JD(S) this time, saw its strike rate decline to 68% from 95% in 2019.

Although the ruling Congress governments in Karnataka and Telangana did not secure a majority chunk of seats to boost the INDIA bloc's chances as they were direct fights with the BJP-led NDA, their substantial gains in these states helped diminish the saffron party's prospects of adding more seats to its tally.

In Kerala, lotus slips one past UDF-LDF turf war

The Congress-led UDF which had struck at 95% in 2019, winning 19 of the 20 LS seats in the state, saw its hit rate drop by 5%, claiming 18 seats in this year's polls. The LDF was once again relegated to a solitary LS seat, with a hit rate of 5% in both 2024 and 2019, despite being the ruling government on both occasions.

However, it was the BJP which defied expectations to make inroads into the state, as actor Suresh Gopi landed the party's first LS seat in Kerala. This should come as a moral boost for the BJP's ideological mentor, the RSS, which has the highest density of shakhas in Kerala, which is more than it does in any other state.

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