In Lok Sabha seats where poverty declined, BJP took a hit, Congress doubled tally

android, in lok sabha seats where poverty declined, bjp took a hit, congress doubled tally

congress, lok sabha seats

The Congress won 43 of these constituencies, with other INDIA bloc members winning 39, giving the Opposition alliance the edge over the ruling NDA. (Express Archives)

During the Lok Sabha election, one of the prominent themes of the ruling BJP’s campaign was the government’s efforts to alleviate poverty. Of the 517 Lok Sabha seats that saw a decline in the population of the poor since 2015-’16, the BJP won 232 seats, a 63-seat decline from its tally in 2019 when it won 295 seats. The Congress, on the other hand, grew from 42 seats in 2019 to 92 in 2024. The NDA won a total of 282 such seats and the Opposition INDIA alliance 226.

In his campaign speeches, Prime Minister Narendra Modi frequently spoke of the government’s role in bringing an estimated 25 crore people out of multidimensional poverty over the past decade, as per the NITI Aayog. Multidimensional poverty measures “acute deprivations in health, education, and living standards” and is tracked by the NITI Aayog using National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data collected every five years.

A Lok Sabha constituency-level database compiled by a team led by Harvard University professor S V Subramanian on socioeconomic indicators from the National Family Health Survey showed that the share of the population living in multidimensional poverty fell in the 517 seats and rose in only 26 constituencies between 2015-’16 and 2019-’21. While 314 of these 517 seats voted for the same party this time, 203 seats changed their preference.

android, in lok sabha seats where poverty declined, bjp took a hit, congress doubled tally

Change in voter preferences in 517 seats that saw poverty decline

Change in voter preferences in 517 seats that saw poverty decline.

Of the 295 such seats that the BJP won in 2019, it retained 201 this time and lost 88 to members of the INDIA bloc and three to Independents. The Congress picked up the most such seats at 42, followed by the Samajwadi Party (SP) that won 24, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) that won eight, the Nationalist Congress Party (SP) that won six, and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Left that won two each. The BJP gave up three seats to its allies Janata Dal (United), Janata Dal (Secular) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), all of whom won. The BJP was, however, able to flip 30 seats from rival parties, including 12 from the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), and six from the Congress. One of these constituencies was contested by the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) in 2019 but was contested and won by the BJP this time.

The other major parties that won the seats where poverty declined include the Congress (92 seats), SP (36), TMC (26), DMK (22), TDP (16), JD-U (12), NCP-SP and Shiv Sena-UBT (8 each).

Of the 26 seats where poverty increased between 2015-’16 and 2019-’21, just six voted for a different party this time while the rest stuck to their 2019 choice. However, only seven seats saw poverty increase by more than 1 percentage point, including Meghalaya’s Shillong that saw the highest increase at 6.01 percentage points, followed by Bihar’s Patna Sahib that saw a 4.52 percentage point increase. Of these 26 seats, the BJP won nine, two more than last time, followed by the Congress at seven, and the TMC at three. In total, the NDA won 11 of these 26 seats and the INDIA bloc won 14. The BJP flipped a seat each from the Congress and TMC. The Congress won three fewer seats – it lost one to the BJP in Kerala, one to the CPI(M) in Kerala, and one to the Voice of the People Party in Meghalaya.

There are just six seats where more than half the population is living in multidimensional poverty – three in Bihar, two in Uttar Pradesh and one in Jharkhand. In five of these seats, voters re-elected the same party as in 2019; only UP’s Shrawasti flipped from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to the SP. The seats were split evenly between the NDA and INDIA alliance at three each in these elections.

There are 152 seats where less than 5% of the population is living in multidimensional poverty. Just 46 of these seats voted for the same party, with 106 electing a new party. While the BJP won 45 of these seats, its NDA allies won another 15. The Congress won 43 of these constituencies, with other INDIA bloc members winning 39, giving the Opposition alliance the edge over the ruling NDA.

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