Did hate speech deliver victories for the BJP? A constituency-wise analysis

BJP’s star campaigners have been notorious for engaging in dog-whistling and hate speech. Did it work this time? Sabrang India’s analysis shows that over 8 seats in Maharashtra, 4 in UP, 2 in Rajasthan, and several others which saw campaigning by BJP’s big names failed to result in an electoral victory. BJP lost in about 17 seats where it saw these big campaigns that bordered on communal speeches.

On April 21, 2024, Prime Minister Modi referred to India’s Muslims as “infiltrators”. On June 4, the BJP lost the constituency where he said those words. People of Banswara preferred another leader signalling a refreshing return to people’s politics, the victor was an Adivasi leader from the Bharatiya Adivasi Party who won the seat with over 80,000 votes!

Rajasthan’s Banswara witnessed a high voltage campaign starting third round of electioneering clearly after the outcome of the first two rounds had not gone the regime’s way. On Sunday, April 22, 2024, Modi, delivering a speech that was worse than his own set worst standards slurred and stigmatised Muslims. The nationwide outrage – including 20,000 complaints to the Election Commission of India for violating laws – did not stop the surge of venom that he continued to utter through the campaign.

In the April 22 speech, in a swipe at the much hailed manifesto of the Indian National Congress (INC) Modi said, ‘they’ will take away women’s Mangalsutras. In his campaign, PM Modi seemed to be conveying to voters that Congress-led governments in the past have given Muslims preferential treatment. He even reportedly referred to the community Muslim community disparagingly as those with “more babies”, saying “Earlier, when their (Congress) government was in power, they had said that Muslims have the first right on the country’s assets. This means to whom will this property be distributed? It will be distributed among those who have more children. It will be distributed to the infiltrators. Should your hard-earned money go to the infiltrators? Do you approve of this?” However, it seems the voters in Banswara did not quite get swayed by this rhetoric. BJP saw a resounding defeat in the Banswara with the new and rising Bharatiya Adivasi Party’s Rajkumar Roat seeing a convincing victory with a margin of 820831 votes over BJP’s Mahendrajeetsingh Malviya. The BAP’s Rajkumar Roat defeated the former state cabinet minister and BJP’s incumbent from Banswara, Kanak Lal Katara. 

The hate-filled speech also saw a detailed complaint  filed with the Election Commission of India by the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) within days of the April 22 speech. 

In its complaint, CJP stated that Modi’s speech contained targeted and communal slurs against the Muslim community, which led to a polarised voting environment. The complaint cites the Model Code of Conduct, the Representation of Peoples Act, and various sections of the Indian Penal Code, and urged the ECI to take strict action to ensure free and fair elections and to stop hate-mongering against the Muslim community. A few days after, a notice by the ECI was sent to BJP President JP Nadda and notably not Narendra Modi for his speech. 

Also, Sabrang India has been documenting hate speech by BJP leaders and affiliates across the country over the past decade that the party has assumed a brute majority. The BJP set forth an extravagant star campaign across India, unleashing its big leaders including PM Modi, chief ministers such as Yogi Adityanath, Himanta Biswa Sarma, influencers, organisers, and even cynical time-tested tactic of this majoritarian outfit, the voters did not give BJP a victory. Hate speeches did not seem to have achieved the goal. 

In our analysis we have noted that it is in the post 2019 BJP’s second term in the centre from 2019 onwards has marked a sharp rise in hate speeches. These hate speeches, targeted towards religious minorities, have been a means of getting votes by polarising the environment on the BJP’s part. 

How did this tactic fare for the BJP in 2024 in the 18th Lok Sabha elections? The BJP seems to be struggling to form a government despite having earned the largest number of seats, they have lost significant support in a number of significant seats. 

Sabrang India tracks these developments further below to check whether hate speech worked or failed. 

In Maharashtra, in at least 8 seats where hate speech was made, the BJP saw a resounding loss. UP too saw a loss in four such seats, and Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Bihar saw seats which didn’t respond to communal speech as well. 


Apart from Banswara, one more district in the state saw a resounding defeat where star campaigners were involved. In Barmer, INC’s Umeda Ram Beniwal won against BJP’s Kailash Choudhary by a substantial margin of 417,943 votes. In Barmer, religious preacher Dhirendra Krishna Shastri, and supporter of the call for ‘Akhand Bharat’, had given a speech invoking the bogey of ‘love jihad.’ He urged Hindu brothers to remain ‘vigilant’ against conversion attempts and told Hindu sisters to be alert, regarding people doing ‘love jihad.’ Shastri, who has been accused of assaulting a Dalit person. Had also called for the demolition of mosques in Kashi and Mathura.

Uttar Pradesh

In Ballia, the results also showed a similar rejection of divisive rhetoric as the Samajwadi Party’s Sanatan Pandey defeated BJP’s Neeraj Shekhar by 43,384 votes. The district in UP had seen communal speeches, with the district’s BJP MLA Surendra Narayan Singh asserting that those who refuse to chant Vande Mataram have no right to live in India and should be sent to Pakistan.

“Chanting Vande Mataram may be an emotion. But if you are living in India, then Vande Mataram is a must. It is in Sanskrit and can be translated into Urdu too. Those who do not want to chant it by heart have no right to live in India. If it were up to me, I would send such people to Pakistan within a week after making their passports.”

Uttar Pradesh’s Sambhal too had seen a starry campaign by the state’s chief minister Yogi Adityanath himself, who tried to rouse sentiments of the voters by saying that the Congress will distribute their wealth and give it to ‘Bangladeshi and Rohingya infiltrators’ and that the Congress will allow cow slaughter for Muslims.

Sambhal had also seen instances of horrifying narratives of voter suppression against people of the Muslim community. However, the results spelled a disaster for the BJP whose candidate lost to Samajwadi Party’s Zia ur Rehman by 121494 votes. Jaunpur and Barabanki too had witnessed charged speech in both places by Narendra Modi, however they both saw the defeat of BJP as Samajwadi Party and the INC won in these respective constituencies. 


Maharashtra witnessed over eight districts which saw a strong campaign which communally charged speech which witnessed the fall of BJP in the election results. 

In Maharashtra’s Nanded, despite a campaign marked by hate speech in June, INC candidate Chavan Basantrao Valwan defeated BJP’s Chikhalikar Prataprao Govindrao by 59,442 votes. Nanded had seen a charged communal speech by serial hate offender Kajal Hindustani, a social media influencer notorious and popular for her communal speech, having seen various cases filed against her earlier. On May 4, she joined a rally where she spoke against secularism encouraging the Hindu community to do ‘love and land jihad.’ 

“In the name of secularism, you are being played. Your brother is sitting like a butcher and is chopping you. In nine states and in many districts, Hindus have become a minority. After the railway and the defence, Muslims own the most land. Our women, temples, land and gau mata are not safe. Nor is the Hindu safe in this country. You have only one nation. Other Hindus are running to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. The Indian government has promised them citizenship. But where will you go? The Hindu is running from here, from Assam, Bengal etc. Till when and where will you run? How much will you run? Our jihadi brother, he is dreaming of Ghazwa e Hind. What is Ghazwa e Hind? Making India an Islamic nation. They are working according to a terrorist, Talibani ideology. What are we doing? We are only raising slogans. Till when will you stay like this, watching your sister get targeted by ‘love-jihad?’ You get prepared, you too do ‘love-land jihad’, do religious conversions.”

Solapur in Maharashtra experienced a high voltage and shrill campaign by the BJP aimed at stirring communal sentiments. Yet INC candidate Praniti Sushilkumar Shinde won by over 74,197 votes against BJP’s Ram Vitthal Satpute. Solapur had also seen BJP’s “star campaigner” and MLA from Telangana’s Ghoshamahal constituency T Raja Singh give an anti-Muslim speech on. In the speech he was seen urging the state’s Chief Minister, Eknath Shinde, to avoid seeking votes from Muslims and instead focus on those who “save Gaumata.” He further called for a boycott of halal-certified goods and demanded the use of bulldozers for demolitions in Maharashtra. “We had heard of land jihad and love jihad. Now we hear of vote jihad,” the MLA stated, referencing Salman Khurshid’s comment encouraging voters to commit to ‘vote jihad.’ He warned against continuing such practices, asserting, “There was a time when ‘you’ did a lot of jihad. Now is not that time anymore because if you do jihad now, Modiji will hammer you (thok denge).”

Maharashtra’s Kolhapur which had witnessed a fiery speech by VHP leader, too was lost by the BJP as Chhatrapati Shahu Shahaji of the Indian National Congress emerged victorious, clinching the win with a substantial margin of 154,964 votes against Sanjay Sadashivrao Mandlik of the Shiv Sena. On May 20, Surendra Jain, General Secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), delivered a provocative speech in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, rife with conspiracy theories aimed at Muslims. Jain asserted, “Wherever Hindus are a minority, they are in danger,” and stoked fears about Muslims and Christians allegedly funnelling money from abroad to convert Hindus. He claimed that Hindus were being deceitfully converted to Christianity, portraying both Muslim and Christian communities as aggressors against Hindus.

The 2024 elections too saw communally charged speeches by candidate Navneet Rana in Maharashtra as well as for the campaign of BJP’s Madhavi Latha Kompella in Hyderabad. However, not did Navneet Rana’s speeches result in little effect, she also lost her constituency in Amaravati that she was contesting for, as the BJP candidate from the Amravati Lok Sabha constituency faced defeat and Balwant Baswant Wankhade of the Indian National Congress won the seat, beating the BJP candidate noted for stirring communal sentiments, Navneet Rana, by a margin of 19,731 votes. 

Sangli, which saw virulent hate speech by BJP’s star campaigner who has been noted to have over a 100 FIRs against him, T Raja Singh, saw the victory of an independent candidate named Vishal Prakashbapu Patil over the BJP’s Sanjay Kaka Patil. Patil, a Congressman had fought as an Independent after Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Udhav Thackeray had refused the Sangli seat to the Indian National Congress (INC). On June 6, two days after the results he became the 100th winner for the grand old party as he re-joined the Congress after his victory. Patil won by a margin of 100053 votes. In Sangli, T Raja Singh has again given an extremely inflammatory speech against Muslims, where he said, “Shoot in the chest of people who do ‘love-jihad’.” He had even reportedly encouraged Hindus to pick up arms at an event in the Maharashtra district reportedly organised by Sakal Hindu Samaj. Yet, as seen in the results these theatrical attempts did little to sway the voters. 

Despite seeing a rally by PM Modi, Maharashtra’s Nashik was claimed by Rajabhau (Parag) Prakash Waje of Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) with a margin of 162,001 votes, surpassing Shiv Sena’s Godse Hemant Tukaram. On May 15, Nashik saw a high-profile rally by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that Congress plans to divide the union budget into separate allocations for Hindus and Muslims. Modi asserted that during a previous regime, Congress intended to allocate 15% of the union budget exclusively for Muslims, a plan that he said was halted due to his opposition as the then Chief Minister of Gujarat. “The Congress regime at that time had wanted to spend 15% of the entire budget of India on Muslims only. They had to shelve the plan after strong opposition from me in my role as the Gujarat Chief Minister. But now they are bent on reintroducing their previous agendas,” Modi stated. He further warned that if Congress is elected, it would create two budgets based on religion, a move he vowed to prevent. “If Congress is elected, it will make two budgets on the basis of religion. I will not allow the Budget to be divided as a ‘Hindu budget’ and ‘Muslim budget’ and will not allow quotas based on religion.”

The state’s capital also saw UP CM Adityanath come to Mumbai to campaign for BJP’s Sudhakar Tukaram Sudhawale. He spoke about the how the ‘temple is built, and the BJP will move towards Mathura as well and urged voters to vote for ‘Kamal.’ However, BJP’s candidate lost to INC’s Varsha Gaekwad by 16514 votes. Similarly, Latur had witnessed a rally by PM Modi and it was there that he had claimed Congress had a ‘stamp of Muslim league.’ The BJP lost to INC’s Kalge Shivaji Bandappa by 609021 votes. 


In Lohardaga, INC candidate Sikhdeo Bhagat secured a victory, defeating BJP’s Samer Oraon. Just a month ago, Loharadaga had seen a similar rally by Modi on May 4 spewing hate. The BJP leader there made several controversial and reportedly inflammatory statements against opposition parties. He accused them of encouraging “infiltrators” to settle on Adivasi land, claiming that these actions threaten the rights and resources of indigenous people. “Infiltrators are being encouraged to settle here; they are being allowed to grab the land of Adivasi people.” He further raised the bogey of love-jihad and spoke about how these people target women and introduced charged terms like ‘land jihad’ and ‘love jihad,’ as well as ‘vote-jihad’, and claimed that the Congress party had aimed to provide religion-based reservations to Muslims, “They want to go against the Constitution of India and give reservation to the Muslims.” However, it seems that this could not get the intended results for the NDA with the BJP losing a solid defeat with 139,138 votes in Lohardaga. In Jharkhand’s Singhbhum too the PM Modi had taken out a rally, discussing how ‘they’ will give people’s wealth to ‘their’ (Congress’) vote bank. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s Joba Majhi defeated the BJP candidate by 168402 votes. 


It seems the communal rhetoric of the BJP or its allies could not work in Bihar’s Gaya either as, Jitan Ram Manjhi of the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) emerged victorious with 101,812 votes over RJD’s Kumar Sarvjeet in Bihar’s Gaya. Just a month before voting, Gaya had seen Pravin Togadia, the leader and president of Antarrashtriya Hindu Parishad, deliver a highly charged speech in Gaya, Bihar, on April 3. In his speech, Togadia invoked tropes against Muslims, saying that Islamic forces have historically remained undefeated globally and India is the sole exception for them. He claimed, “For 500 years, the flag of Islam flew over India’s heart, and India stands as the only example in the world where Islamic rule was overthrown and replaced with saffron flags. This was not achieved through charity, donation, or treaty, but through our forefathers’ blood and swords.”

This is not to say that hate has been entirely overcome as the BJP, with its formidable RSS cadres still won 239 seats. However it does mean that a successful focussed campaign by the people supporting a credible opposition can ensure that issues that dominate an election campaign and results reflect the needs and aspirations of wide sections of the people.


Rising tide of hate speech marks India’s general assembly election campaigns

#GrowASpineOrResign: Citizens’ mass city-wide protest against inaction by ECI over PM Modi’s hate speech & suppression of voters rights during ongoing election

Elections 2024: The lead up to the first two phases of voting have seen far right leaders deliver anti-Muslim hate speech across India

FIRs for hate speech registered against BJP MLAs Nitesh Rane and Geeta Jain: Maharashtra Police to Bombay High Court



Related Articles