Will BJP ‘Rule’ New Parliament – And Gain Most From Delimitation?

The new Lok Sabha will have 888 MPs. UP will still have highest number of MPs, followed by Maharashtra & Bengal. 

4 min read

The ground-laying ceremony of the new Parliament building, and increase in seating capacity in the new annexe, has created a buzz around the ‘delimitation exercise’ due in 2026.

The new building can house up to 888 Lok Sabha MPs, a jump of 345 from the current strength.

How was this number arrived at? It’s not rocket science. As a thumb rule, for every population of 10 lakh voters there should be 1 MP. In the 2019 general elections, there were approximately 88 crore voters, implying there should be 888 MPs to represent them.


What Is ‘Delimitation’? Why Do We Need This Exercise Again?

Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of the Lok Sabha and Assembly segments to represent changes in population.

As per 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 on the basis of the 1971 Census.

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.

To ensure that the southern states – which promoted family planning – do not end up with a reduction in seats, the delimitation exercise was frozen till 2001on grounds that a uniform population growth rate would be achieved throughout the country by 2026.

What Will The New Lower House Of Parliament Look Like?

The new Lok Sabha will have 888 MPs. Uttar Pradesh will continue to have the highest number of MPs at 143, followed by Maharashtra and West Bengal.

The states in the Northeast, and the Union Territories will not witness any increase.

The top 10 states which would witness the maximum increase are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Telangana.

These 10 states would account for roughly 80 percent of the total increase in the number of MPs.

The new Lok Sabha will have 888 MPs. UP will still have highest number of MPs, followed by Maharashtra & Bengal. 
Top 10 States With Increase Post Delimitation

Region-Wise Lok Sabha Seat Distribution

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 new Lok Sabha will have 888 MPs. UP will still have highest number of MPs, followed by Maharashtra & Bengal. 
Proportion of Seats Region-Wise

The BJP currently is very strong in north, west and central India, while it remains weak in the south.


What Would The Current Lok Sabha Look Like If Delimitation Was Applied Now?

A simple extrapolation of the current number of seats held by the BJP, Congress and Others to the new Lower House, shows that BJP could have 515 MPs, Congress could have 75, and regional parties and Independents would have 296 MPs.

Due to the change in regional composition as stated above, the north, west, central regions will get a boost where the BJP is strong, the percentage of MPs that the BJP would have in the new Lok Sabha (post-delimitation) could increase from the current 55.8 percent to 58.1 percent.

The Congress’s strength would reduce from 9.6 percent to 8.5 percent – as currently, more than half of its MPs are from the southern states.

Regional parties’ strength would also decline, as roughly 40 percent of their tally is from southern India.

The new Lok Sabha will have 888 MPs. UP will still have highest number of MPs, followed by Maharashtra & Bengal. 
Strength of parties in Parliament based on 2019 performance if delimitation is applied. 

Regional Disparities In Representation – And Why North India Stands To Gain Most

To sum up, delimitation is still some time away; the number of constituencies carved out on the basis of the 2001 Census will be in operation till the first census post-2026, which will be in 2031, unless amended or carried out earlier.

However, regional disparities which exist in representation, show that north India would gain the most, while the south could potentially lose out.

11 years is a long time in politics, and whether BJP continues its dominance remains to be seen as fortunes may change. Based on current trends though, it is likely to be the biggest beneficiary of the delimitation exercise, and consequent increase in the number of MPs in the Lower House.

(The author is an independent political commentator and can be reached at @politicalbaaba. This is an opinion piece. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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