The Larger Picture: A Comprehensive Post Poll Analysis

Posted on March 7, 2012 in Politics

By Praggamoy Dasgupta:

Truth is no fiction. Exit polls are no entertainment.-A bear hug is no game changer.-Aristocracy is being looked down upon- Regional parties rule the roost. However, anachronism amongst the polity seems omnipresent. Alleged party cadres of the victorious Samajwadi Party, in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh succumbed to their perversity. They mutilated cameras of the media houses present in a local media centre over issues which were bizarre. Even worse- with changing fortunes, they failed to live upto their lost reputation, even before counting ceased.

Uttar Pradesh Diaries:

SP's Akhilesh and his efforts swiped out all political parties in Uttar Pradesh

If the anarchy in Jhansi is a precursor of the imminent mayhem, one must acknowledge, that the UP electorate has mislaid its fortunes. According to various sources, the percentage of women voters in UP, this election has seen a phenomenal up rise. And most importantly, a considerable chunk of them rooted for a bicycle ride. Only time will show if the Samajwadi’s have become better, i.e.: through better governance, eradication of “gunda-raaj” and the pertinent, security of the opposite sex. And prove the attack on the media men as a gullible mistake (on a larger platform). Coming back to the bigger issue; the results in India’s largest state, narrates a vicious story.

The Samajwadi Story:

A bicycle ride, on the cratered roads of Uttar Pradesh, is an uphill task. And indeed it has been for today’s man of the match: Akhilesh Yadav. It was in the year 2009, when his wife Dimple Yadav, lost hands down to veteran actor Raj Babbar , in a by poll for the Firozabad Lokh sabha seat , he had seated his eyes firm on the state legislative assembly polls , which were to be held in 2012. He galvanized the party network, reached out to the right people, all from an Air conditioned bus, fitted with an elevator and an in house toilet. After all the toil, a victory with a thumping majority of 224 seats out of 403 is a monumental gain.

Akhilesh’s forte was perhaps the single largest weakling of the Mayawati led Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP). In all these five years of her rule, Behenji built statues, extended free housing facilities for her ilk, knitted garlands of cash, aimed at her over ambitious project of social engineering among other sundry activities but failed to overhaul her “greater than thou” image and observe the larger issue. As an outcome: Her megalomania fetched her palsy 80 odd seats. A staggering fall from the 206 seats which her party secured in 2007.

The BJP Story:

On the other hand, BJP could have witnessed a change in their fortune in Goa, thanks to Congress’s blind eye towards corruption, illegitimate mining etc in the state, but in the Hindi heartland, its dismal performance keeps getting from bad to worse. Even worse, the electorate of Ayodhya, the epicenter of their infamous Ram Mandir agenda, has cornered them. If the party line had believed in Uma Bharati, in being their “turup ka ekka”, it was a grievous fault. Apart from its misplaced leadership and fracases among the party bigwigs in the centre, the abysmal result and the loss in Ayodhya is a call of the wild. If BJP is here to stay and resurrect in Uttar Pradesh in the upcoming general elections, it must set a conducive agenda and not merely bank on borrowed leaders from neighbouring states and cleanse their communal character.

The Congress Story:

Congress took a beating as Rahul Gandhi's efforts did not reap good enough results

One might pity at the fate of Congress in UP, laugh at the malleability of Rahul Gandhi or even cogitate on his failure to be the show stopper inspite of his political pyrotechnic, but the prima facie fact which makes him the big loser of the day is significant. Although the congress fared well in the general election 2009, they are far from emerging victorious in a state legislative election. The Gandhi’s could well be a buzzword in a shoddy dalit household in a downtrodden village in Uttar Pradesh, but by and large they appear to be a party which represent a central diktat, based in Delhi and not Lucknow. Hence the discretion. This is evident from their loss in the two coveted seats of theirs- Amethi and Rae Barelli. Rita Bahuguna Joshi , who once foul mouthed at Mayawati as an “Achuth” and “Chamar” , could be their old war horse but to emerge with respectable outcomes in future vidhan sabha elections , a new strategy has to evolve in 24 Akbar Road , New Delhi ; with emphasis on building a state cadre and offer credible candidates.

Moving to Punjab:

Unlike Uttar Pradesh, in Punjab anti-incumbency didn’t see the light of the day. That too for the first time in it’s 46 year old electoral history. The BJP- Shiromani Akali Dal alliance, led by the Badal’s, won by a majority of 68 seats out of 117. Although the BJP fared poorly but their alliance with the Akali’s proved effectual. The congress, which had even declared Captain Amarinder Singh as their chief ministerial candidate in the state, met with futility. The Patiala failed miserably at a larger level, albeit his victory over Akali leader Sant Singh Brar in Gidderbaha constituency. The exit polls which held him in high hopes, made it even worse for the royal family of Patiala to digest the loss. Even worse, Rahul Gandhi’s six handpicked flag bearers, who belong to the “aam-aadmi” cadre, failed to make a footprint, except two. However, contrary to the perception of many media pundits, the Manpreet Singh Badal led People’s party of Punjab (PPP), failed to create a scenario of brothers pitted against brothers. Its tally of votes went nil, at the closure of counting, calling for serious amend in the family. However, as the results suggest, the Father-son-Bahu trio of the Akali’s, may not reconcile with Manpreet in the near future, even if Manpreet Badal roots for a “bhai-bhai “scenario.

Situation in Uttarakhand:

In the hilly state of Uttarakhand though, it’s a virtual hung assembly with the BJP winning 31 seats and congress a good 32. The political cliffhanger can now be resolved through alliances with the minor parties in the state, most importantly BSP among other independents. While media reports suggested that smaller parties like the Peace party, Amar Singh led Rashtriya Lok Manch in Uttar Pradesh among others could be a spoilsport , it has come down to the minority parties in uttarakhand to rescue the state legislature from a hung assembly. Amidst the chaos, the big news from the hills was the loss of Chief Minister, B.C.Khanduri against Congressman SS Negi in Kotdwar. Although it’s uncertain till now, whether BJP will finally root out anti-incumbency or not, the larger threat, if it emerges as the faction with majority, is the dearth of a chief ministerial candidate, sans Khanduri.

Goa and Manipur:

In the state of Goa though BJP faced no big tragedy; congress was flummoxed at its appalling recital. With a tally of 24 seats the BJP and its allies made it big in the state of fish and football. Congress’s loss was expected as it failed to deliver and moreover get entangled in serious offences like illegal mining, the police- political nexus which boosts drug mafia in the state and the quintessential corruption. A change in the electoral pattern was also witnessed which left many followers of politics awestruck. In south Goa, which is a Christian stronghold, BJP did exceedingly well, once again doing away with its communal character. Nevertheless, one must not forget the hostility; the Christians were exposed to in Kandhamal, Orissa. Allegedly led by right winged activists and sitting BJP MLA, Manoj Pradhan, the exodus took away the lives of 38 people, forcing a group of 25,000 or more Christians to flee from their villages. So, on a larger platform, it’s ambiguous, if the Christians have forgiven the BJP for its misgivings or whether Congress has been left in lurch for the wide of the mark issues, which put Goa on the national news line for the past few years. However, among the five states which went through the elections this March, the state of Goa remains and appears to be in its everlasting equanimity.

Meanwhile, in the troubled state of Manipur, Okram Ibobi Singh lead congress made a hatrick and beat anti-incumbency. However, with no credible opposition to counteract, victory was always on their card. Mamata Banerjee’s bear hug to Irom Sharmila Chanu, didn’t reciprocate the result Didi would appreciate. While the congress won a good 42 seats out of 60, AITC came a distant second with just 7 seats. The Naga People’s Front, which has its base in the hill districts of Manipur, managed 4 seats only. The wry result in Manipur was primarily due to lack of any opposition force in the state which could stand up to Ibobi. Mired by strife, sulking under the diktat of AFSPA, Manipur has a larger issue of identity and politics to face than a palsy and colorless state legislative assembly.

On another note:

On the larger stage, that is to say, in New Delhi, Congress can surely begin counting its day. Though an early election is distant, no matter how much the BJP roots for it, the United Progressive Alliance must settle its score with its alliance. While AITC in West Bengal has already drawn the battle line between them and the congress through pervasive action and war of words, if the Samajwadi party decides to put on the back burners and remain aloof from the centre, BJP’s prophecy would not remain a remote delusion. The lesson for the two national parties is simple- In states with strong regional parties; alliance is the only path to evade a drubbing. BJP’s success in Goa, Congress’s victory in Manipur is an upshot of the aforesaid rational. The stroke of happiness was in watching Rahul Gandhi coming out of his mollycoddled avatar and bearing the brunt. Even better — It was indeed a journey to savour for young Akhilesh Yadav. Guess the old rusty cycle in red will gain enough mobility to voyage towards “better-raj” along the dusty, cratered roads of Uttar Pradesh.