The India-Bharat divide is a fiction. It’s the product of a collective guilty conscience. Journalists in Delhi and metros around the country, embarrassed about their predilection for table-top reportage and frivolous television debates, have willingly acquiesced to a simple counter-narrative: that there is a Bharat somewhere out there that we are not covering.

Google Hangouts happen in India. Out in Bharat, however, you’ll find khap panchayats. In India you might not even know the caste of your Member of Parliament. In Bharat, he is your Member of Parliament because of his caste. You can’t sit in Delhi, they say, and understand the real India. And you certainly can’t predict the future of this country from what happens in Delhi.

But what if you could? Consider this: six of Delhi’s seven constituencies have voted for the party from the ruling coalition in the last four elections. In 1998, the Bharatiya Janata Party won six seats, the same year that Atal Bihari Vajpayee cobbled a shaky alliance together at the Centre. The next year, they took all seven — and returned to power nationally with the biggest Lok Sabha haul in their history.

In 2004, the Congress surprised the nation by returning to power, picking up six seats in Delhi along the way. Five years later, they once again managed to defy expectations with an even better showing across the country, as well as in Delhi, where they swept all seven seats.

This year, with the chances of a more fractured mandate across the country, the capital is also facing a three-pronged fight that could either confirm the existence of the BJP’s much vaunted Modi wave, or leave things in a muddle. The results for elections in the capital — which take place on April 10 — could be reflective of a national trend. Pundits should be looking at Delhi, not Uttar Pradesh, to see what the future holds.

Rural-urban migration is the crucial factor that blurs any India-Bharat divide. Even if such a border between one nation and another exists, it’s right in the middle of our cities. Think the real India lives out in the villages? Tell that to the 22 million citizens living in the National Capital Region who elect 11 Members of Parliament (Delhi’s seven, plus the constituencies of Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Gurgaon, although the officially designated NCR includes a few more). That’s more seats than Jammu & Kashmir, as many as Chhattisgarh and almost as many as Punjab.

However, even if we consider Delhi a bellwether for the country, it would be an error to hope for a clean, post-identity politics nation. Peruse the candidates in the capital, and you’ll see how Delhi isn’t just the Lutyens’ Zone.

In North-East Delhi, a Bhojpuri actor was picked because of the area’s substantial Poorvanchali population. The Jat-and-Sikh heavy West features the son of a Jat strongman and a Sikh journalist picked primarily because he chucked a shoe at finance minister P Chidambaram over the Congress’ response to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. You can’t win in Chandni Chowk without keeping Muslims happy, while the East has a Gandhi descendent (Mahatma, not Feroze) and a guru’s choice candidate (Sri Sri Ravishankar’s, not Baba Ramdev).

Indeed, Delhi is a bellwether not simply because a lot of people live here, but because its vast population tends to operate on the basis of caste, class and religious lines just like the rest of India. It simply compresses all of those broad trends into the pressure-cooker of a single state.

What, then, is Delhi about to tell the rest of the country on April 10? The flag flying highest, as it seems to be everywhere else, is that of the BJP’s and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. The India Today-Cicero poll projects at least give and up to seven seats for the right-wing party, while NDTV’s poll gives it four of the seven seats.

(For the record: this was Cicero’s prediction for last year’s Delhi Assembly polls, getting only AAP’s final seat count close to the actual figure. NDTV-Hansa didn’t post predictions for the 2013 Assembly elections.)

The Modi effect is certainly present in the capital — which, people forget, elected more BJP MLAs than AAP ones in the December state elections — but it is up against some rather lacklustre candidates. If the BJP really takes all seven, or even just five, of the seats, it will be a clear statement that the media narrative of former chief minister Arvind Kejriwal having run away from government has truly taken hold.

Anecdotal evidence suggests there are portions of the electorate that haven’t bought into this story. But with high turnout expected, it’s difficult to tell which trend will set the tone. That leaves AAP hopeful in three seats — North-West, Chandni Chowk and East Delhi. This would be a solid showing from the young party, but nothing close to the seven-seat sweep they were dreaming of after December’s Assembly poll results.

Then there’s the Congress. After 15 years of ruling Delhi state, their former chief minister Sheila Dikshit is out of politics altogether while the local Congress unit worries about even its star campaigners flopping. The Congress is hoping its old patronage networks in Chandni Chowk and its cultivation of residents of unauthorised colonies could give it a strong showing in two seats. It has a third hope in New Delhi, with two weak opponents and a "clean candidate" in Ajay Maken. After December’s debacle, however, even one seat would be a huge consolation for a party that seems set to be routed nationally.

By the time the post-poll analysis comes in, the overall trend should be apparent. If AAP is able to grab at least three Lok Sabha seats, it will send a message to all non-Congress, non-BJP parties, no matter how different they might be in identity. But if the BJP takes more than five seats as the opinion polls are predicting, Delhi’s Lok Sabha elections might just end up telling us more about what’s going to happen across India than the final tally in Varanasi.