By definition, a constituency that votes for the political party which eventually forms the government is called a bellwether seat
Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hoping to retain power at the Centre along with its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners in the Lok Sabha elections.
The country will head for voting in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, in what is being termed as the ‘world’s largest election exercise’. The counting of votes will take place on May 23.
While results of opinion surveys and exit polls are often the subject of debate, historic election data at times paints a clearer picture.
To get a sneak peek into what the election result could turn out to be, political observers have been studying opinions and reactions of voters in India’s bellwether seats.
By definition, a constituency that votes for the political party which eventually forms the government is called a bellwether seat.
While there is no scientific basis to this, bellwether constituencies usually act as a marker for the final results.
Not too many constituencies have got the winner right for a long period of time at the national level. Therefore, we are presenting three lists of constituencies based on how many times they got the winner correct between 1977 and 2014.
Here’s a list of India’s bellwether seats and their strike rate since 1977:
Seats that got all of the last 11 Lok Sabha polls correctValsad, Gujarat
West Delhi, Delhi
Seats that got 10/11 correctBeed, Maharashtra
North West Delhi, Delhi
Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh
Seats that got 9/11 correctBanaskantha, Gujarat
Bhiwani Mahendragarh, Haryana
East Delhi, Delhi
Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh
Kushi Nagar, Uttar Pradesh
Mandi, Himachal Pradesh
Mandla, Madhya Pradesh
Paschim Champaran, Bihar
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Interestingly, most of these seats are in the ‘Hindi heartland’. None of the 28 Lok Sabha seats mentioned above are in southern India where regional parties are more dominant.
Note on methodology: A major delimitation exercise was carried out in 2008. As a result, boundaries of several constituencies changed. Therefore, newly demarcated constituencies have been matched with the electoral history of the geographical area or the name of the old constituency. For example, the Bihar’s Paschim Champaran constituency was formed in 2008. Hence, the electoral data for that seat comes from the erstwhile Bettiah constituency.
By-election results have not been considered. Victories of pre-poll allies have been included. For example, the Nashik Lok Sabha seat was won by Shiv Sena in 2014 — BJP’s pre-poll ally.
It is to be noted that the Ranchi Lok Sabha constituency was earlier in Bihar and is now in Jharkhand.Why was 1977 used as the starting point for the data? The strength of the Lok Sabha was capped by the Constitution (Forty-Second Amendment) Act, 1976. Till 1976, constituency boundaries were regularly redrawn on the basis of the latest available census data. As a result, there were 489 seats in 1952), 494 (1957 and 1962), 520 (1967) and 518 (1971). The 1977 general election was the first under the new guidelines and had 542 seats — closest to today’s 543. All constituencies, except for those that saw change in 2008, follow the same boundaries since 1977 polls.