A viral claim on social media claiming that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost 58 seats with a margin of less than 2,000 votes and 41 seats with a margin of 1,000 votes in the recently concluded Karnataka assembly elections is false and not backed by official data from the Election Commission of India (ECI).
A margin of victory for a seat is difference of the votes obtained between the winning candidate and the immediate runner up.
The message potrays that the contest between the BJP and the Congress was closer than it actually was. The Congress won the election outright, winning 136 of the 224 seats up for grabs. In the state, winning 113 seats gives the party a simple majority. The election took place on May 10 with the votes being counted on May 13. The Congress is yet to announce who will head the government as chief minister.
The language used by the post blames Hindus for voting for the Congress on the back of their promise of freebies spanning services like electricity and transport. The post also goes on to say that if 1.5% more Hindus had voted, the outcome could have been something else.
BOOM was able to ascertain that BJP has trailed under 1000 and 2000 votes collectively only in five seats. Further, there are only 12 seats in the entire election where the margin of victory was less than 2,000 votes.
Moreover, the ECI does not release data on voting done segregated by the religion of the voter.
The claim can be seen below.
It is also vital on other platforms.
On the whole, there are only 12 seats, across all parties, where the margin of victory is less than 2,000 votes. This data does not support the claim of 58 seats being lost solely by the BJP with this margin.
Of these 12 seats, there are only eight seats whose margin was less than 1,000 votes. The BJP won three of these seats like Jayanagar, whose margin is the lowest in the election at 16 votes.
The Congress won the remaining five with a margin of less than 1,000 votes, the BJP being the trailing party in all of them.
The remaining four seats were won by a margin of more than 1,000 votes but less than 2,000 votes.
All these seats were actually won by the BJP, with the Congress trailing in all four of them.
What does the ECI data say about voter demographic data?
The ECI does not provide data on the religious divide as such data is not collected.
On the voter demographics, the ECI provides data on:
- The gender of the voter base: male, female or third gender
- The number of NRI (non-residential Indian) voters and the number of service voters
- Tendered votes, rejected votes and NOTA votes polled
This categorisation is further broken down by state.
For the 2019 general election to the Lok Sabha, this data can be found here, and here for all the other state-level elections as conducted by the ECI. The page is updated with data that is as recent as the elections to Megalaya, Tripura and Nagaland that took place earlier this year. However, these divisions are not yet available for the recently concluded elections in Karnataka.
The data also provides the individual performance of women candidates in the fray.
This is not the first time that BOOM is checking claims on elections being closer than they were, with the blame being put on a religious group.
After the general elections to the Uttar Pradesh last year, social media posts alleged that the BJP won several seats by a small margin since Assaduddin Owaisi's All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen was purposely positioned to bite into the Samajwadi Party's "anti-BJP" vote base.
BOOM also saw a similar message after the elections to the legislative assemble of Delhi, where the Aam Aadmi Party won decisively.