On October 15, 2014, Legislative Assembly elections were held in Maharashtra and Haryana. The elections were much anticipated, especially in the eyes of the politically sagacious Indian, who loves to draw his own conclusion and announce an election result based on his political knowhow, with gusto and Ã©lan. Invariably, the logical Indian is proven wrong for most part, by the bizarre machinations of desi politics. The interesting thing, however, is that he springs up with unabashed enthusiasm, proclaiming his aptitude of understanding politics, on the tiniest thing he would turn out to be right on.
This self proclaimed political savvy Indian with half baked theories and full blown conclusions, tries to sketch what has transpired in the recently concluded Assembly elections.
The average BJP/Narendra Modi supporter is thrilled on the Haryana report card, with the ruling party of the nation capturing 47 out of 90 seats in the Assembly. With an absolute majority in Haryana, the BJP does not need to be at the mercy of a fragile alliance with another political party. Bear in mind the fact that in the 2009 Legislative Elections in Haryana, the BJP had managed to garner only 4 seats- the present increase is a near 1100%, a figure that is both staggering and mindboggling. From that result, it may seem that BJP has carried on its Lok Sabha run and continues to shine. The average BJP supporter, however, would like to forget its dismal performance in September bypolls where the BJP conceded 11 seats in U.P., 9 in Gujarat and 4 in Rajasthan. Prior to that, the ruling party had to bear the brunt of defeat in August bypolls held in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. The majority might be unanimous, but it is still precarious if the recent past is taken into consideration.
The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), the main opposition political party in Haryana, managed to back only 19 seats, a significant drop from the 31 seats it had won back in 2009, establishing itself as a weak runner up for the second consecutive time. An interesting strategy used by the INLD was roping in rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh in a bid to woo “the young Jat” to vote for them. Sadly, the catchy tune failed to translate into votes for the party.
The Indian National Congress seems to have its legs knocked from under it. It seems to be living by the famous, short lived Suniel Shetty anchored reality show, “Biggest Loser Jeetega”, as its losses keep mounting with each passing elections. The INC garnered only 15 seats, a straight 25 seat (or a 167% ) decline. Incumbency hasn’t worked out for the Congress in 2014 and it will have to sketch out a fresh game plan if it wants to remain significant in the national political scenario.
The rest of the seats are taken up by ‘the also-rans’ Haryana Janhit Congress (2 seats), Bahujan Samajwadi Party (1 seat), Shiromani Akali Dal (1 seat) and other independent parties, who even Wikipedia decides to forego, garnering 5 seats.
The Maharashtra Assembly Elections of 2014 have been a delight to observe, strictly from an observer’s viewpoint. With long held political alliances being snapped, the five way race has been a free for all scramble for power in one of the largest and the richest state in the country. From candor by the incumbent CM, to Uddhav Thackeray’s chutzpah (thank you Haider!) post election, the Maharashtra Assembly State Elections has been a pot-pourri of political masala thrown in with oodles of surprise.
The 25 year old Shiv Sena-BJP alliance ended on acrimonious terms; the dent in the 15 year old Congress-NCP alliance threw the race open as wide as it could have. Raj Thackeray led political problem child Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) made as much sound as it could muster, in a bid to gain from the division of ranks happening all around it and trying to establish itself as a major player in state politics.
The results threw up some surprises.
The BJP, once again emerged as clear winners, garnering 123 seats (one seat won by political ally Rashtriya Samaj Paksha). It still falls 23 short of the clear majority it would need to form a Government. With the NCP offering unconditional support and Shiv Sena open to renewing the alliance, ‘quo vadis’ or ‘whiter goest thou’ is a question that BJP must ask itself. Incidentally, this is the first time in 24 years that a party has managed to win 100+ seats in Maharasthra, the last 100+ winner being Congress in 1990, bagging 141 seats. However, BJP has apparently ruled out an alliance with NCP, declaring that it would be betraying the people of Maharashtra who have rejected the NCP. Which brings us to the Hebrew word Haider has made famous – Chutzpah, immeasurable audacity or gall. I cannot think of any other word that would describe Uddhav Thackeray’s aspirations of being the Chief Minister of the state. With 63 seats, the Shiv Sena is the second strongest party in the state. But, it can only lend support to BJP or occupy a position as the main opposition in the legislative assembly. Keep in mind the acrimonious feud that broke a quarter century old alliance between Shiv Sena and BJP that led to the two parties contesting the elections separately. And then, take into consideration the Sena chief’s demand.
In a nutshell – you break up with your partner, fight against your partner, lose, want to make up with your partner who’s victorious, and immediately demand the keys to the house.
Audacious much, Mr. Thackeray!
The Indian National Congress, as mentioned earlier, has imbibed the habit of losing. With 42 seats, the INC finishes a distant third. The dismal show of the Congress is not surprising, given the fact that the last 5 years have thrown up the resignation of a chief minister and the Adarsh Housing and irrigation scam. The Chief Minister, Ashok Chavan, tried to salvage the situation to the best of his ability, but the general mood against the party and its ally NCP, was a little too much to handle. Nevertheless, full marks to the Maharashtra CM for giving a candid interview where he goes on to explain why he couldn’t take action the way he wanted to, against the rampant corruption in the state.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) ended right behind its erstwhile ally, the Congress, with 41 seats. With Ajit Pawar’s unpopularity and involvement in the irrigation scam (he was the irrigation minister and also served as the deputy Chief Minister in the Congress-NCP Government), the NCP was doomed from the get go. In fact, Big Boss of the party, Sharad Pawar, had to come into the picture announcing his name as the Chief Minister candidate for the NCP, in order to save the situation. But like the results speak out in deafening tones, it was too little too late.
18 other seats were grabbed by parties such as Bahujan Vikas Aaghadi, Peasants and Workers Party of India, the CPI (M) etc. A special footnote, however, is being written for the MNS which, despite the fanfare and trumpets and the cacophony, managed to win 1 seat, down from 13 in 2009. MNS might as well start writing their political obituary if they don’t incorporate drastic changes soon.
The Legislative Assembly elections in these two states have fuelled fire to the speculation that the Modi wave is still coasting across the nation. To say that, however, would be misjudging several other important factors – the primary one being the strong feeling of anti incumbency in the two states. The people have had enough of the Hoodas in Haryana and the Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra. They, in turn, opted for the next best option that happened to be BJP in both the states. The fact that the BJP won only 12 seats out of the 27 where the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had campaigned for the party in Maharashtra also belies the Modi Wave theory.
Interestingly enough, the BJP still believes in the Modi Wave theory and relied on the Prime Minister of the country to campaign for the party in legislative elections of these two states. It goes on to show BJP’s over reliance on the Prime Minister. It also shows a lack of big charismatic names in the party at the state level, which is definitely a worry for them.
Because, contrary to what they show in the movies, one man can only do so much.