2021 in numbers: State elections
The BJP gained most MLAs this year, but not all will be important for Rajya Sabha
While members of legislative assemblies (MLAs) largely determine the laws of their respective states, they also play a role in shaping India’s national laws indirectly. This is because MLAs elect members to the Rajya Sabha, the upper House of Parliament. This makes state elections, which take place in one or the other state every year, important for the ruling and Opposition parties at the Centre too. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) enjoys a simple majority on its own in the Lok Sabha, it has only 97 members of its own in the 245-member upper House, of which 233 are elected members. Here is how the arithmetic of MLAs changed this year.
4,025 MLAs were elected to state assemblies in the latest election of each state before this year barring Jammu and Kashmir. These MLAs were distributed across 78 parties. After the elections to four states – Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu – and the union territory of Puducherry this year, these 4,025 MLAs are now distributed across 84 parties. This change of six parties was brought about by nine parties gaining MLAs from having none earlier and three parties losing all their MLAs. Of the nine such parties that gained MLAs, the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL), a BJP ally, is from Assam and the rest are small parties from Kerala. Of the three parties that had at least one MLA earlier but have none anymore, Communist Marxist Party Kerala State Committee (CMPKSC) is from Kerala and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GOJAM) and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) had MLAs in West Bengal.
The biggest gainers in these elections were the BJP and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), who increased their MLA count by 83 and 48 respectively. The biggest losers were the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIDMK), the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM, who lost 72, 44, and 19 MLAs respectively.
To be sure, a gain or loss of an MLA in Kerala or Puducherry does not mean the same for Rajya Sabha elections as the gain or loss of an MLA in West Bengal or Tamil Nadu. This is because all states do not get to elect the same number of members to the Rajya Sabha. Tamil Nadu and West Bengal elect 18 and 16 members to the upper House, the 3rd and 5th highest number of members among different states and UTs. Kerala and Assam have middling importance in Rajya Sabha elections, with a say over nine and seven seats in the upper House, while Puducherry has the least importance any regional legislative assembly can have, electing just one member to the upper House.
BJPs and DMKs overall gains, however, will be of high importance. This is because the BJP has gained 74 of its 83 members from the West Bengal assembly and another 4 from Tamil Nadu. It lost one member in Kerala and gained six in Puducherry. The DMK gained 44 of its 48 members from Tamil Nadu and 4 from Puducherry.
Most of the BJP's gains in West Bengal will, however, be offset by its ally, the AIADMK, losing 68 MLAs in Tamil Nadu. The major change for the BJP then is that it will not have to depend on AIADMK as much as it had to earlier in the parliament. The Congress losing 44 MLAs on the other hand will not hurt it as much as the number suggests. This is because it arrived at this loss by making both gains and losses in the all-important Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. It lost 44 MLAs in West Bengal, but gained 10 in Tamil Nadu. Its overall net loss of 44 members is because of gains and losses in other states.