Why Dalits did not vote for the BJP in the Lok Sabha?

The recent Lok Sabha elections dramatically changed India’s political landscape. After a decade in power, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost its majority in the Lower House. Despite winning 240 seats, making it the single biggest party, the inability to fulfill the lofty “400 Plus” aim has been a source of debate. This article dives into the issues that influenced this election result, notably the contentious “400 Plus” slogan.

The “400 Plus” Slogan: Ambition and Consequence
The “400 Plus” slogan was a key part of the BJP’s election campaign. The party’s leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, highlighted the need for a big majority, aiming for 400 seats to undertake important constitutional reforms. This phrase was created to rally the party’s base and entice indecisive voters by offering a vision of decisive rule.

Electoral Strategy and the Backfire
While the phrase was intended to increase morale and attract floating votes, it backfired. Many saw it as overconfidence and a danger to the country’s democratic structure. The BJP’s campaign, which centered primarily on this narrative, was criticized for looking arrogant and disdainful of democratic checks and balances.

The opposition’s counter-narrative
Opposition parties grabbed the chance to use the “400 Plus” slogan against the BJP. They saw it as an effort to subvert the Constitution, claiming that a supermajority would allow the BJP to implement broad reforms that would jeopardize minority rights and the state’s secular nature. This message resonated significantly with those who were worried about the rise of tyranny.

Constitutional Concerns Among Voters
Many people, particularly those from the Dalit and Bahujan groups, see the Constitution as a bulwark against past injustices and institutional oppression. The worry that the BJP might change these safeguards rallied these groups against the party. The Constitution’s role in eradicating untouchability and establishing reservations is seen as critical to their social and economic growth.

Case Study for Mohanlalganj Constituency
In Uttar Pradesh’s Mohanlalganj seat, there was a major change among Pasi voters. Many people who had previously opposed the Samajwadi Party (SP) chose to support it in this election because they were concerned about the BJP’s constitutional aspirations. This movement represented a microcosm of a larger trend throughout the state.

Uttar Pradesh is a key battleground.
Uttar Pradesh, a key state in Indian politics, saw the BJP lose half of its seats, finishing second behind the SP. The party’s vote share decreased by 8% compared to the 2019 election. This fall was mostly due to a loss of support among backward populations and Dalits, who believed their constitutional rights were being threatened.

Dalit Support in Numbers
The Scheduled Castes (Dalits) played an important part in this electoral change. Dalits, who account for 17% of India’s population, have swung decisively towards the opposition. According to the India Today-Axis My India poll, the NDA’s popularity among Dalits fell from 41% in 2019 to 35% in 2024, while the opposition’s support grew to 46%.

Impact on SC Reserved Constituencies.
The BJP’s result in the 84 SC reserved seats declined significantly. The party’s vote percentage remained largely unchanged, but the Congress saw significant gains, growing by 4% and doubling its seats from 6 to 20. This move had a huge effect on the BJP, which saw their seats in these constituencies plummet from 46 to 30.

Emerging Trends in Dalit and Bahujan Support
The findings show a huge shift of Dalit-Bahujan support away from the BJP. Dalit voters, who had traditionally supported the Congress, have turned to the BJP during the last decade. However, this tendency reversed in the 2024 elections, with Congress reclaiming a large portion of its previous support base.

Congress Gains at the BJP’s Expense
The Congress’s revival among Dalit voters had a significant role in its better result. This move was aided by the collapse of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which had historically championed Dalit concerns but has been losing popularity. The Congress’ ability to restore themselves as the favored alternative among Dalit voters harmed the BJP.

Analysis of Electoral Data
According to India Today’s Election Intelligence (EI) dashboard, in 156 constituencies with large SC populations, the opposition INDIA coalition won 93 seats while the NDA won 57. This change emphasizes the significance of Dalit voters in determining election results, as well as the necessity for parties to appropriately address their issues.

Future Implications for the BJP.
The BJP’s election plan and the criticism it received provide important lessons. The party should reconsider its strategy to gaining support from underrepresented areas and be wary of portraying too ambitious goals that might be seen as challenges to democratic norms. Addressing the concerns of Dalit-Bahujan voters will be critical to the BJP’s future electoral success.

The 2024 Lok Sabha elections showed the intricacies of Indian politics, as well as the importance of voter perception. The BJP’s “400 Plus” slogan, which was designed to garner a strong mandate, eventually led to its loss of majority. This outcome was influenced significantly by the opposition’s successful counter-narrative and the subsequent change in Dalit-Bahujan support. Moving ahead, the BJP will need to carefully handle these factors to restore its political foothold.

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