Number Theory: Clues for 2024 from state elections held since 2019

If one were to count the recent Karnataka elections, 400 out of India’s 543 parliamentary constituencies (PCs) have voted in state elections after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. This number does not include 49 PCs in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, and Sikkim, where assembly elections are held along with the Lok Sabha elections, and another 11 PCs located in Union territories which do not have assembly elections in any case. Can an extrapolation-based analysis of these results tell us anything about possible implications for the 2024 elections? Here are four charts which try to answer this question.

Number Theory: Clues for 2024 from state elections held since 2019(PTI)

First a caveat: 2019 Lok Sabha results show extrapolation of state polls could be misleading

An extrapolation of state election results between 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections would give the BJP just 222 of the 489 PCs which went to polls (Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh were not Union territories without legislature in that period) in that period. In 2019, the BJP won 291 of these PCs. This serves as a caution against reading too much into state election results to understand what they could be in 2024. Having said this, here is what an analysis shows.

BJP’s seat share shows a sharp fall in post-2019 assembly elections and the Congress is not the beneficiary

Of the 400 PCs which have gone to polls in assembly elections after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won 223 in the 2019 elections. In an extrapolation of state results, this number stands at just 177. The Congress, which won 44 out of these 400 PCs, will see an increase to 46 as a result of the extrapolation. As is obvious, the biggest gainers from the extrapolation are regional parties, with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leading the rankings. To be sure, it is important to point out that some of the changes in these numbers could be on account of changes in the number of seats contested on account of change in alliance as well. Also, because state-level alliances can lead to sharing of ACs within a PC, all AC-wise wins need not translate into PC-wise wins.

BJP has lost most PCs in state elections of Karnataka, West Bengal, Delhi, and Bihar

In terms of absolute number of PCs lost for the BJP, Karnataka tops this list (loss of 17 PCs), followed by West Bengal, Delhi, and Bihar, where the party has lost eight, seven, and seven PCs. Karnataka and Delhi – states where the BJP had big victories in the national elections and lost badly in the following state election – are also at the top of the list in proportional loss of PCs compared to 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Congress would also have lost PCs if not for Karnataka

To be sure, the Congress would also have a net loss of PCs if not for Karnataka. Before the Karnataka elections, it was 15 PCs behind its 2019 tally in the 372 PCs where state elections had been held, despite its already small tally in the Lok Sabha polls. The only states where Congress has gained PCs in state elections (compared to the Lok Sabha elections) are Karnataka, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, and Haryana.

State poll performances could matter in alliance negotiations for 2024

While it is risky to extrapolate state election results to national elections, they could matter for alliance negotiations before 2024. For instance, while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) won 10 PCs in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, when it was in an alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP), it did not win even one AC in the 2022 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. This will drastically reduce its importance in any alliance negotiation for the 2024 elections. Similarly, if the results of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh elections are on the lines of what they were in 2013, the Congress’s extrapolated PC tally will be just 55 before the 2024 elections, which will not be significantly large compared to that of the Trinamool Congress (32), a party which has been pushing the Congress to cede more ground in any larger opposition alliance in 2024. However, if it were to even replicate its 2018 performance in these three states, its extrapolated PC tally would reach 80, placing the Congress in a better position for negotiations with other opposition parties.


    Abhishek Jha is a data journalist. He analyses public data for finding news, with a focus on the environment, Indian politics and economy, and Covid-19.
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