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Election metrics: Bellwether constituencies

34 constituencies have been lucky with their representative being part of ruling coalition for each of last 4 governments
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First Published: Tue, Jul 23 2013. 12 51 AM IST
Photo: HT
Photo: HT
Updated: Tue, Jul 23 2013. 01 33 AM IST
Residents of 34 constituencies have been lucky with their representative being part of the ruling coalition for each of the last four governments.
Which constituencies are these and where are they located?
What makes these constituencies key in the overall analysis?
To be sure, the delimitation of constituencies happened between the 2004 and 2009 elections, which means some earlier constituencies don’t exist anymore while new ones have been created. This analysis maps constituencies whose names changed in the interim (for example Madras North became Chennai North), and also identified successor constituencies (for example, Bhiwani and Bhiwani-Mahendragarh, which appears in this analysis).
On to terminology, now. “Ruling coalition” refers to all the parties that were part of the coalition formed immediately after the elections, including those that provided support from outside (since such parties also have a significant impact on the government’s policies). Thus, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) was a “ruling party” in 1998-99 and 1999-2004, and the Samajwadi Party in 2009-14. However, the Samajwadi Party—it supported the coalition towards the end of the 2004-09 term—is not included as a “ruling party” in the 2004 elections.
This analysis also takes into account each Lok Sabha as it stood when it was constituted and ignores bye-elections.
Table 1 gives the list of the 34 constituencies that have always voted for a party from the winning coalition in the last four elections:
Notice that Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu contribute nine constituencies each to this list. In Andhra Pradesh, the TDP did well in 1998 and virtually swept the state in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1999. In 2004, however, following the breakaway of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) from the TDP, the state has mostly returned Congress candidates.
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Tamil Nadu is a story of coalition partners. After the failed experiment in 1998, when the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) pulled the plug on the Union government after 13 months, the BJP tied up with the DMK for the 1999 elections, and then went back to the AIADMK for the 2004 elections. Thus, the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK), which tied up with the Congress in 2004 and 2009, ended up on the winning side in three consecutive elections, during which it also managed a significant number of seats. With the DMK now having exited the UPA, it needs to be seen how this plays out in next year’s elections.
Interestingly, three constituencies from West Bengal also make the cut—a result of the Trinamool Congress being part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the 1998 and 1999 elections. This serves as a reminder of the breadth of the NDA coalition in those years which seems to have now dwindled considerably. Another metric which further reinforces this is that 13 of these 34 constituencies have been shared between the BJP or the Congress in the last four sessions of parliament, and this includes constituencies in states such as Andhra Pradesh where the BJP currently has no presence.
While these 34 constituencies have always been part of the government, what about the other extreme? There should surely be constituencies whose representatives have always sat in the opposition?
In fact, there are 18 of them. The list is in table 2:
Unsurprisingly, five of them are from Uttar Pradesh, which has a four-cornered polity, and one of whose major parties (Bahujan Samaj Party) has never been part of the national government. Following this, there are three from Maharashtra (all in the Vidarbha region) and three in Karnataka. Kokrajhar from Assam in the above list is an outlier in that it has always elected either candidates from Bodo parties or independents, thus always ending up in the opposition.
A note of caution to end this piece. While in the past, certain constituencies have always elected an MP who is part of the government, it is not necessarily true of the future. Nothing in our analysis suggests that the party that wins New Delhi or Mumbai North or Dum Dum in the next election will form the national government, or that the party that wins from Bikaner or Nagaland or Bellary will necessarily sit in the opposition.
In the next part of this series, we will look at the influence of states in the Lok Sabha.
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First Published: Tue, Jul 23 2013. 12 51 AM IST
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