From faith to gender and profession to caste: A profile of the 17th Lok Sabha
A new Lok Sabha was elected on May 23, 2019. In this piece, we analyse the profile of the new ruling class, breaking down the data by various socio-demographic data such as age, occupation, education, gender, caste and religion.
We also look at the performance of re-running Members of Parliament (MPs) and at the number of new faces in India’s Lower House.
The data for the variables such as age, occupation, education, and gender are sourced from the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and merged with the Trivedi Centre for Political Data’s (TCPD) own database of political candidates. The data for caste and religion has been collected over several years of fieldwork by many scholars, journalists and students.
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Due to the consolidation of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) 2014 performance, many incumbents have been re-elected. Overall we find little changes in the composition of the 2019 Lok Sabha as compared to the 2014 Lok Sabha.
In terms of religious composition, 90.4% of the MPs of the new Lok Sabha are Hindus. There are five more Muslims elected than in 2014, which brings Muslims’ representation to 5.2% (from 4.2%). Other religious minorities, such as Sikhs and Christians, represent 4% of the MPs.
In terms of caste, the composition of the 17th Lok Sabha is practically identical to the 16th. 155 of the 542 elected Parliamentarians, or 28.6%, are upper caste Hindus, the same number as in 2014.
The number of parliamentarians from intermediary castes has reduced from 83 to 77 i.e 14.2% of the parliament.
Party-wise professions: Comparing BJP & INC Winners
Looking at the professions filed by the 303 BJP winners in their self-declared affidavits, we find that most of the winners have declared some form of agriculture as their primary professions, while a smaller share of Indian National Congress’s (INC) elected MPs have declared the same.
These winning candidates come from various backgrounds: spanning professions involving politics (52), business(48) and entertainment(6) and so on.
The winners who report their profession as politics are typically sitting or former MPs or MLAs, which have increased from 38 in 2014 to 61 in 2019.
The BJP has sent an almost equal number of lawyers and entertainers to the newly elected assembly.
We see the likes of actors, film artists, folk singers etc amongst the winning BJP candidates who, on average, have amassed over 55% of the vote share in their respective constituencies.
There is a marginal increase in the number of women in the 2019 Lok Sabha. The number of women MPs has increased from 11.6% in 2014 to 14.6% in 2019. In absolute terms, the number has increased from 63 to 79.
Correspondingly, the number of male MPs has decreased from about 88.4% in 2014 to 85.4% in 2019.
This pattern of an increase in the number of women MPs in the 2019 Lok Sabha is reflected in the seats won by both the national parties i.e., Bharatiya Janata Party and Indian National Congress.
In absolute terms, the number of women MPs in the BJP has gone up from 30 to 41 (increased from about 10% to 13%). For the INC, this is an increase from 4 to 6 women MPs (9% to 11%).
Incumbents AND THE distribution of terms served
233 of the 542 MPs contested for the first time. 277 are first-time elected, a lower figure than in 2014, when 316 MPs were elected for the first time. The main reason is the good performance of re-running MPs, essentially those contesting on a BJP ticket. 226 re-running MPs have been re-elected, which is a high ratio. 153 of the 169 re-running BJP MPs have been re-elected.
118 MPs are serving for the third time or more. The two Lok Sabha veterans are Maneka Gandhi (Sultanpur) and Santosh Kumar Gangwar (Bareilly), both elected for the eighth time.
(Priyamvada Trivedi is Associate Director of the Trivedi Centre for Political Data, Ashoka University. Basim U Nissa and Saloni Bhogale are Research Fellows at the Trivedi Centre for Political Data, Ashoka University. We are thankful to Sudheendra Hangal, Gilles Verniers, Mohit Kumar, and Sofia Ammassari for data processing and comments)