Victory by default

While the assembly election results in Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh were generally on expected lines, the Congress would not be happy with the outcome in Haryana. The Congress-NCP alliance will form the government for a third time in Maharashtra, with perhaps a slightly reduced role for Sharad Pawar’s party. The dominance the alliance had over the opposition Shiv Sena-BJP combine was never in doubt, in spite of the disadvantages of incumbency. The BJP, troubled at the centre and leaderless in the state, is a shadow of its former self in the state. Its major partner, the Shiv Sena, too has lost its old roar, having given away some its thunder to Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Samithi. The MNS has made an impressive debut and split the Sena’s votes in many seats. With an improvement in its strength in the assembly from 140 to 145,  the DF will look forward to consolidate its politics in the next five years. It might also do well to note that the mandate that it got was not all on account of its own strength but because of the weakness and lack of credibility of its rival.

Congress chief minister Bhupinder Singh Huda’s gamble of early elections did not pay off in Haryana, which has elected a hung assembly. The strong showing of the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections had encouraged Huda to go in for early polls. But the unexpectedly strong performance of Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal denied the party a comfortable victory. If the INLD-BJP alliance had not broken down before the elections, the Congress might have been in deeper trouble. It lost 27 seats it had held in the last assembly. With six seats short of a majority it will have to seek the support of independents and slippery customers like former chief minister Bhajan Lal to form a government. It only has to blame its own complacency and its underestimation of Chautala, who worked hard to revive his party.

The Congress landslide in Arunachal Pradesh was not a surprise and the state has voted true to its traditions. The party  has won 42 of the 60 seats, and no opposition party, including the BJP, the NCP and the Trinamool Congress, could reach the two-figure mark. An impressive performance, though by default.

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