Elections: Truth behind the spin

Elections: Truth behind the spin

The run up of Assembly polls in four states and one union territory promise much excitement

Elections: Truth behind the spin

Battered and bruised over the last one year under constant attack from the opposition parties and others for a series of corruption charges and mishandling of appointments to top posts, the Congress party and the UPA combine can look for some solace in the form of a possible electoral victory in four states and one Union Territory in the next two months.

What do these elections mean for the three major political formations of the country – the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Left Front? What would be the impact of the state elections on the  power games at the national level?

Congress hopes to achieve in the electoral field what it could not through governance in UPA’s second innings. Congress hopes to come to power, in the company of its partners, in West Bengal and Kerala and retain the gaddi for the third consecutive time in Assam.

Tamil Nadu, however, can turn out to be a bitter pill as the general outlook suggests that the DMK-Congress-PMK combine may lose the battle to the AIADMK-led coalition. Still, with more than 50 days to go, the tide can, indeed, turn. The small Puducherry UT, where Congress is certain to retain power, holds little significance.

As for the NDA leader BJP, the election does not hold much promise. For, it has no major–or even minor- role to play in any of the states save to some extent in Assam.

It is the Left Front, facing perhaps the biggest electoral test of its political existence in the country for the last about four decades, which awaits the polls with bated breath. Stakes are huge for the Communists – they are in power in West Bengal and Kerala and have a marginal presence in TN. Interestingly, the comrades are the only common opponents that Congress can find in all the four states!

This is the third set of state elections that the country will witness after the 2009 Lok Sabha polls – Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand went to the hustings in late 2009 and Bihar late last year. Congress retained power in Maharashtra along with NCP, returned to power in Haryana but nearly drew a blank in Bihar where it went alone, while Jharkhandhas a BJP chief minister now.

The four states and the UT send a total of 116 Lok Sabha MPs (WB-42, TN-39, Kerala-20, Assam-14 and Puducherry-1) and, hence, political upheavals in them naturally have an impact at the national level.  Congress can look for increase in its self-confidence but what impact the ballot will have on the Left remains to be seen.

Trinamool Congress, led by the fiery Mamata Banerjee is expected to land the worst defeat for the LF in its unchallenged 34-year rule in the eastern state, thus ending one of the longest innings in power by any political formation. TC has been returning impressive performances in all the recent elections and bypolls, be it the 2009 LS elections in which it won 19 seats (its partner Cong won 6) or the municipal polls.

Kerala, which traditionally does not re-elect the party in power, is all set to see the Congress-led United Democratic Front coming to power. The LDF, which drew a blank in the 2009 LS elections, is believed to have recovered some lost ground.

As always, Tamil Nadu presents an interesting electoral battle, this time under the shadow of 2G spectrum allocation scandal. If seat sharing in the AIADMK-led front goes as per plan, chances of it coming to power seems bright, notwithstanding the impressive performance of the DMK in the last LS polls (it won 18 seats).

In Assam, Congress is looking for a hat-trick, taking advantage of the disarray of the rivals – none of them, be it Asom Gana Parishad, the BJP or the All India United Democratic Front, is said to be in any position to offer credible challenge.

Coming back to the impact these polls may have, the Left would be staring at the possibility of a weakened influence that it may wield – its seats tally in LS has already come down from 59 in the last House to 24 now. However, will a further weakened LF make its third front partners desert group and head towards the BJP? This looks remote.

Parties such as Biju Janata Dal, Telugu Desam, JD(Secular) would be more concerned over the Muslim vote than a tie-up with the BJP. Moreover, 2014 – when LS elections will be held – is still far away. Thus, the rightist party taking advantage of the reduced power of its bitter ideological enemy, appears unlikely at least for now.

The Congress, notwithstanding the result in TN, would draw confidence and look forward to the crucial year of 2012 when the all-important Uttar Pradesh elections will be fought.

The 2011 result, combined with the 2009 LS show when it won 21 seats in UP, may give it the self-belief to go it alone in the Assembly polls. Year 2012 will also see elections to the posts of President of India and Vice President.

West Bengal set to vote change

UDF back as favourites in Kerala

Cong hopes for a hat-trick in Assam

Old architecture, but new chemistry in TN, Puducherry

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