ByÂ Saif Khan:
If there was any doubt regarding whether anti incumbency is the most prominent factor in deciding the outcome of elections in contemporary Indian politics then that question has been settled. Karnataka showcased what a number of other states have already shown during Assembly Elections in the past two years.
In Tamil Nadu, AIADMK wrested power from incumbent DMK. UP saw the return of Mulayam’s SP at the cost of Mayawati’s BSP, the hilly states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand sent the BJP packing and brought the Congress back to power whereas in the small state of Goa, BJP managed to turn the tables on the Congress Government. The noteworthy exceptions to this trend have been BJP ruled Gujarat and Punjab, which happens to be the den of the Badal Camp and the Akalis.
The second big factor influencing these outcomes besides anti-incumbency has been that of corruption. In my opinion, corruption has in fact played a monumental role in fuelling anti incumbency. When DMK contested elections in Tamil Nadu, it was suffering from a credible crisis which had been caused due to the involvement of A Raja in the 2G spectrum Scam and the arrest of Kanimozhi, daughter of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi. Mayawati’s exit from office was because of her tainted cabinet ministers and the infamous National Rural Health Mission Scam which saw huge embezzlement of funds. In Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, there were serious charges of financial impropriety against Chief Ministers PC Dhumal and Ramesh Pokhriyal, respectively. Their dented image caused their party a chance to govern again. Goa too was not insulated from the issue of corruption as the mining scam dominated the campaigning season.
If this trend continues then it is but obvious that the ruling coalition at the Centre would definitely be voted out of power as it has to its credit an array of path breaking scams including CWG Scam, 2G Scam, Devas Antrix-Deal, CoalGate and HelicopterGate. However, I would still not rule conclusively in the favour of BJP led NDA coming to power in 2014. This is because the BJP has not been immune to anti incumbency and corruption as they too have lost their states to the Congress at the Assembly level. The only exception as I mentioned earlier has been Gujarat (In Punjab, BJP is the minor partner alongside Akali Dal). It was Narendra Modi’s personality and not BJP’s performance which earned them the mandate in Gujarat. Even the ‘Narendra Modi Factor’ is not big enough to earn the NDA a victory in the next General Elections. Delhi is yet to go to polls. Congress stalwart Sheila Dikshit is eyeing for a record 4th term. Just like the Modi Government in Gujarat, Dikshit’s government in Delhi makes tall claims of development but is often cornered by the Opposition on charges of corruption and lopsided growth. Whether Sheila Dikshit would be able to do a Narendra Modi in Delhi or not is a serious question. If she does, then the USP of Narendra Modi would fall as he would not be able to assert his supremacy among all the Chief Ministers of India. Sheila’s triumph would also vindicate the fact that some big developmental projects can drown minor issues of corruption as happened in Gujarat. It would be inappropriate to make a comment about the next general elections without first analyzing the Delhi polls so I consider it wise to exercise restraint.
A call in regards to the result of the next general elections cannot be made on the basis of somebody’s personality because the two top contenders i.e. Modi and Rahul have both failed electorally on various occasions. While Rahul failed to make any significant impact in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Modi failed to deliver in the last General Elections (Where he campaigned in 500 constituencies with the BJP winning just 25) and also the state of Himachal where he campaigned vigorously during the Assembly Elections held this year. So let us wait and watch till the opportune moment arrives. We can only expect the two principal political players of India to learn from their mistakes and not breed corruption if they intend to come to power and stay in the echelons of the power corridor.