A recent study conducted by IndiaSpend.org, a non-profit, public interest journalism platform shows the percent of members of Lok Sabha will increase from 29 percent what it is today to 33 percent within a decade in three states – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. The data is based on a Kotak Securities report on the demographic dividend of India’s Gangetic belt.
Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal are the states identified as part of the Gangetic belt. Accounting for half of India’s population, these states have fertility rates higher than the Indian average. On an average, Bihari women of child-bearing age have 3.4 children each and women in UP have 3.1. The average for the Indian woman is 2.3 children.
If India’s parliamentary seats were to be re-allocated across states on the basis of population, the Gangetic belt would send 275 of 548 MPs to the Lok Sabha, according to estimates.
India’s constitution has fixed the number of MPs per state, based on the 1971 census, although it allows periodic delimitation exercises – changing constituency boundaries to adjust for population growth so that each Lok Sabha MP represents a fairly equal number of people. States that had lower birth rates wanted to protect their political say at the Centre, and so, the numbers of MPs per state have been frozen for the last 45 years.
The constitution currently requires that this arrangement be looked at again post 2026, the Kotak report said.
The Gangetic belt represents three of India’s largest four states in terms of population – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. These three states are home to a third of India’s population: 394 million of 1.2 billion.
Maharashtra is India’s second-most populous state, with 112 million people, followed by Bihar and West Bengal.
India has one MP in the Lok Sabha for 2.2 million people. For comparison, the US, the third most populated country, has one Congressman for 0.6 million people. And in the United Kingdom (a country of 64 million people, or about the size of Karnataka) represents 0.1 million people.
An MP from the Gangetic belt represents about 25 percent more people than a non-Gangetic MP, according to the report.
Rajasthan has the highest proportion (2.7 million) of people represented by each MP, followed by Bihar (2.6 million), and UP and MP at 2.5 million each, which is also the average of the Gangetic belt.
With high fertility rates, the proportion of people represented per MP is estimated to rise in the Gangetic belt to 2.9 million by 2026, when the next delimitation of parliamentary seats is due.