New Delhi: As the ongoing Lok Sabha elections approach the last phase on 19 May, West Bengal has emerged one of the hottest battlegrounds with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee persistently waging a bitter and combative war. But the interest in the state’s electoral stakes seems to go beyond just this rivalry, with West Bengal seeing the highest number of candidates from national parties.
With its 42 Lok Sabha seats, the state has a total of 195 candidates from national parties — an average of around 4.6 per constituency — with candidates from five national parties contesting.
Contrast this with Uttar Pradesh’s 80 seats where 191 candidates from national parties are in the fray — an average of 2.4 such contestants per seat. In Maharashtra, which has the next highest number of seats at 48, there are 115 candidates from national parties — also at an average of 2.4, shows data.
ThePrint has analysed the electoral data compiled by PRS Legislative Research.
There are seven recognised national parties in the country: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Trinamool Congress (TMC), Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
In West Bengal, it is a four-cornered contest between the BJP, TMC, Left parties and the Congress, while in Uttar Pradesh, the three-legged fight is between the BJP, Congress and the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party combine.
This Lok Sabha poll has turned into an extremely high-stakes, and among the most ruthlessly fought, elections.
The overall picture
A total 8,039 candidates are in the fray this election, with BJP contesting 435 seats and the Congress 420. Mayawati’s BSP has emerged as the third-largest contender in this respect among all national parties, fighting in as many as 383 seats — far ahead of the CPI(M), which is at fourth place with candidates in 69 constituencies.
The number of Independents in the fray, meanwhile, is nearly double that of candidates from national and recognised state parties. There are 3,442 Independents, as against 1,451 contestants from national and 345 from state parties.
The state with the highest number of Independent candidates is Tamil Nadu, with as many as 558 fighting for 39 seats — an average of 14 per seat. However, on a per seat basis, it is Telangana with the largest number of Independents in the fight with an average of 17.6.
The maximum candidates from recognised state parties are in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, at 50, followed by Bihar (47) and Uttar Pradesh (40).
While there are 15 candidates per Lok Sabha constituency on an average, there are as many as 336 seats with less than that number. This would mean a few of those with disproportionately high number of contestants — like Nizamabad in Telangana with 185 — are skewing the overall average figure.
The five big states
Accounting for 46 per cent of the total Lok Sabha, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar and Tamil Nadu are the most keenly watched states, with 80, 48, 42, 40 and 39 constituencies, respectively.
Among these, the total number of candidates — national, state, Independent as well as from unrecognised parties — are the highest in UP at 969, followed by Maharashtra at 867, Tamil Nadu at 845, Bihar at 626 and West Bengal at 466.
For the BJP, which is hoping for another term, these states — except Tamil Nadu where it has no presence — are crucial.
In Uttar Pradesh, it is up against a united SP-BSP and in Bihar, against a Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal combine. In Maharashtra, where it is in alliance with the Shiv Sena, the BJP faces a Congress-NCP coalition. West Bengal, meanwhile, is a four-cornered contest, but the BJP is hoping to make noticeable inroads in the state and has set itself a target of 22-25 seats.
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