In this post, I present a constituency level map of the 2009 General Elections.
You can click on the map for an enlarged image.
The map presents an interesting, if fragmented, story. While the BJP’s electoral success is largely rooted in North Western and Central India, the Congress’s victory can be attributed to its geographical pervasiveness. The Congress’s geographical outreach far outstrips its main opponents’. This, combined with some timely alliances, has contributed to the 8 year reign of the Congress at the centre. While the BJP has expanded its voter base in the past decade, it is yet to connect with voters outside the Northern/Central belt. It is clear that the BJP’s national ambitions rest on its ability to go beyond the ‘Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan’ rhetoric.
The other story emerging from this map is the importance of regional satraps. The days of strong, single party governments are over and this could have interesting consequences for political party organization in India. Increasingly, citizens are identifying with regional, rather than national, actors. This should force national parties rethink their party cadres and organizational focus. It may serve national parties better if they were to strengthen their local leaders and decentralize their focus. The idea of a national leader, while still a powerful image, will probably have less sway in the polling stations.
I have my hands on some incredible data and am itching to present it in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!