Gangetic belt comprising Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal will contribute around 33% members of the Lok Sabha by 2026 in comparison of present 29%. Presently, an MP from the Gangetic valley represents about 25% more people than the MP from non-Gangetic region.
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 an estimate arrived at by IndiaSpend.
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.
Accounting for half of India’s population, the states from the Gangetic belt 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. 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.
The Constitution currently requires that this arrangement be looked at again post 2026. 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.
(In collaboration with IndiaSpend)