The inauguration of the new Parliament building which can accommodate a higher number of MPs is set to change the political equilibrium in the country. The northern states could gain seat share post a new delimitation while southern states which have promoted family planning may lose out. It could further deepen the existing north-south divide.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be unveiling the new Parliament building on the occasion of his completing 9 years in office. A controversy has erupted with opposition demanding that the President and not the Prime Minister should do the inauguration.
The new building can house up to 888 Lok Sabha MPs, a jump of 345 MPs (+63.5 percent) from the current strength. As a thumb rule, for every population of 10 lakh voters there should be one MP. In the 2019 general elections, there were approximately 88 crore voters, implying there should be 888 MPs to represent the populace.
Present Lok Sabha’s 1971 Basis
According to Article 81 of the Constitution, the composition of the Lok Sabha should represent changes in the population. However, the number of seats has remained more or less the same since the delimitation exercise carried out in 1976.
Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of the Lok Sabha and Assembly segments to represent changes in population.
The ratio between the number of seats in a state and the population should be nearly the same for all the states. This was done to ensure that every state is equally represented.
Smaller states, which have a population of less than 60 lakh, are exempted from this rule. At least one seat is allocated to every state / union territory irrespective of the population. For example, Lakshadweep – with a population of less than 1 lakh – sends one Lok Sabha MP to Parliament.
The current strength of the Lok Sabha and its state wise composition is determined on the basis of the 1971 Census numbers. This will be in operation till the first Census post-2026, by that time a uniform population growth rate is estimated to be achieved throughout the country.
Eleven States Could Gain, Nine To Lose
Going by current population estimates, the seats of Uttar Pradesh could increase from 80 to 143, Maharashtra from 48 to 84, West Bengal from 42 to 73, Bihar from 40 to 70 and Tamil Nadu from 39 to 58. The share of the Top Five states is likely to increase from 46 percent currently to 48 percent in the new Lok Sabha chamber.
Almost 80 percent of the increase in the strength of the Lok Sabha is likely to be accounted for by ten states: Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Telangana.
Excluding the north eastern states and UTs, eleven states are likely to witness an increase in the share of seats, nine a decrease while two states are estimated to have no change. Six out of nine states which are likely to see a decline in the sear share (though not seat count) are from Southern and Eastern India (Kerala, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Assam).
Contrary to popular perception, two southern states Telangana and Karnataka are likely to witness an increase in share of seats. The three northern states of Punjab, Himachal and Jammu & Kashmir are likely to witness a decline in share of seats.
At Expense of South And Northeast
A region-wise analysis of the new Lok Sabha post-delimitation shows that South (-1.9 percent) and Northeast (-1.1 percent) could witness a decline in representation from their regions.
North India, which accounts for 27.8 percent of the current Lok Sabha strength, would see a rise of 1.6 percent and account for 29.4 percent of seats in the new Lok Sabha post-delimitation. Similarly, Eastern India (+0.5 percent), Western India (+0.5 percent) and Central India (+0.4 percent) would also see higher representation.
The BJP currently is very strong in north, west and central India, while it remains weak in the south, and now there is a BJP-mukt South India after the loss in Karnataka.
The unveiling of the new Parliament Building is likely to escalate the political tug of war between the government and the opposition on the issue of the impending delimitation.
Amitabh Tiwari is a former corporate and investment banker-turned political strategist and commentator. Twitter: @politicalbaaba. Views are personal, and do not represent the stand of this publication.