A deluge of candidates

2009 was a fairly unremarkable year in terms of the number of candidates that stood for elections. Chennai South fielded 43 candidates, and like in 2004, had the highest number of candidates.

The 2004, 1999, and 1998 elections were no more remarkable. However, 1996 (below) was quite the exception. There were two constituencies, Nalgonda (Andhra Pradesh) and Belgaum (Karnataka) that had over 450 candidates each contesting in the elections.

Many of these candidates fewer than 100 votes. However, all of them received at least a dozen votes. (The lowest was for Patil Nagendra Irappa, who received only 12 votes at Belgaum.)

However, all of these pale in comparison with the 1996 assembly elections in Tamil Nadu. There were 1,033 candidates that contested in the 1996 assembly elections at Modakkurichi in Tamil Nadu.

Here is a peek at the candidate list:

These are just a few of the 64 candidates named Palanisamy that stood for elections.

While you may note that many of these candidates received only 1 vote, it is even more remarkable that 88 candidates received zero votes – that is, they forgot to even vote for themselves.

India’s election history is littered with nuggets, but few are as likely to be as strange as a ballot book filled with over 1,000 names, of whom 88 forgot to vote for themselves!

The one constituency that matters

One question that we’re repeatedly asked at Gramener is “Who’ll win the election?” While we’re not going to answer that outright, here’s something we uncovered during this quest.

We were looking for a constituency that votes for the nation’s winning party, i.e. the party that had the largest number of seats. (In India, this has also always been the party that has been in power.) Except for 1977 when the Janata Party won, and 1996, 1998 and 1999 when BJP won, this has always been the Congress.

It turns out that there is one party that votes in exactly the same way – Faridabad, in Haryana. The party that won Faridabad, since its inception in 1977, has always gone on to win the elections.

So here’s our answer to the question who’ll win the election: “Pay close attention to who wins Faridabad.”

Constituency win history

Since 1996, there have been only 6 other constituencies that have voted for the national winner, as shown above. Mumbai North, since it’s inception in 1996, have voted consistently for the party that won the National elections. East Delhi has always voted for the winner except in 1991, when they voted for BJP.

While this is not meant to be taken seriously — if you look hard enough, you’ll find a constituency that matches almost any pattern you want. — we’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on the polls in these constituencies.

Election analytics

Yesterday, we kicked off the CNN-IBN Microsoft Analytics centre, a website visually analysing the historical and upcoming Indian elections. It’s hosted at ibnlive.in.com/general-elections-2014/analytics/ as well as at bing.com/elections (not to mention Gramener’s own gramener.com/election/). You’ll also see this on CNN-IBN’s news channels regularly over the next few weeks.

It aims to make the past 15 Lok Sabha elections more easily understandable for the lay audience, allowing them to explore and discover insights. This is also a learning experience for us at CNN-IBN, Microsoft and Gramener, while allowing us to share the insights we find.

For example, we find that only once in the history of Uttar Pradesh has a party swept every single seat in the state – the Janata National Party in 1977. This has never happened in the history of any large state.

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Or, for example, the curious case of Nalgonda and Belgaum in the 1996 elections, where both constituencies had over 450 candidates standing for elections (independents, mostly), with many of them receiving no more than a hundred votes, perhaps from friends and family.

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Each constituency is shown as a circle. The colour represents the party that won in the 1996. The size is based on the number of candidates. You can clearly see the large purple circle – where JD won in Belgaum and the large red circle – where CPI won Nalgonda.

Over the next few weeks, we hope to add more insights to these visuals, and blog about them as well. You’ll see some of these on TV on CNN-IBN. In the meantime, please feel free to explore!