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Assembly Poll Outcome: VICTORY FOR LEFT, NOT CONGRESS,by T.D. Jagadesan,13 June 2006 Print E-mail


New Delhi, 13 June 2006

 Assembly Poll Outcome


By T.D. Jagadesan

The results of the recent Assembly elections in four States and one Union Territory have been on predicted lines, except in the case of Tamil Nadu where the DMK managed to breast the tape ahead of the ruling AIADMK in the last lap of the race.  But what was least expected and most surprising has been the reaction to the results by two major national parties in the country, which despite clear reverses seem to be quite not willing to accept them.  What else can one make of the Prime Minister’s statement that “the results of the elections in five States were a victory for the UPA coalition and the secular forces in the country”?

The Finance Minister told the media that he had informed the Congress President and the Prime Minister even before the counting started that the “Left parties were expected to form Governments in two of the five States and the Congress supported parties in three of the States.  After the counting he has claimed that the Congress is “as much the victor as the Left”.  The results of the elections have to be assessed with reference to the number of seats contested by different political parties.

The assessment has also to be based on the political significance of the elections.  For example, the victory or defeat in a Union Territory like Pondicherry which has just one seat in the Lok Sabha is quite different from that in a large State like West Bengal which has 42 seats in the Lok Sabha. 

Applying criteria like these, the ordinary people will find it difficult to interpret the defeat of the Congress-led front in Kerala (42/140) or the poor performance of the Congress in West Bengal (21/293), as anything but a serious erosion of the influence as the premier national party of the country.

In Kerala it was a straight fight between the Congress and the CPI(M) in which the former’s strength in the Assembly got reduced from 62 to a low 24 and the strength of CPI(M) increased from 24 to 65.  In West Bengal, the CPI(M) secured 175 seats, comfortable enough to form a Government on its own.  With this level of performance the CPI(M) becomes the indisputable winner in these elections and the Congress cannot by any stretch of imagination claim any share merely based on the fact that it has the support of the CPI(M) from outside for the UPA Government at the Centre.

The Finance Minister’s claim that three out of the five States which went to the polls will be having Congress-led or Congress-supported Governments, also cannot bring much cheer to the party in these States, though the performance of the party in these States was certainly much better than that in Kerala or West Bengal.  Everyone knows that in Tamil Nadu the DMK had shown little interest in sharing power with the Congress.

The DMK and the Congress have been political adversaries in the State for long years and the former cannot be expected to be comfortable in sharing power with the Congress. Though short of a majority, the PMK was in a position to form the Government with the support of the DMK and the Left parties from outside without having to include the Congress as a coalition partner.

The Congress had been out of power in the State for nearly four decades now in Tamil Nadu and this isolation will continue in spite of the fact that the Congress has increased its strength in the Assembly to 34 in the present elections.  The Congress will support the DMK Government from outside, but the DMK is in a happy position of not being dependent on the Congress for its survival in power.

In Assam the Congress has been able to form a Government, but the fact that its strength in the Assembly has been reduced from 70 to 53 and that it is obliged to share power with one faction of the Bodo group should not be a matter of great elation for the Congress.  On the other hand, it has to be taken as a symptom of the erosion of the Congress Party’s influence in the State.

In Pondicherry also the Congress is able to form the Government, but the fact that it secured only ten out of the 30 seats and that it is dependent on the support of the DMK which won seven seats, cannot be ignored.  It is obvious to all impartial observes of the post election scenario that the performance of the CPI(M) in West Bengla and Kerala cannot be balanced with that of the Congress in the other three States which went to the polls.

If the record of the Congress in these elections should give the party good cause for concern, that of the other major national party, the BJP, should be described as equally dismal. Some BJP leaders have claimed that the BJP did not have any “heavy stake” in these States and the therefore its poor performance in these elections is not of any great political significance.   However, the plain fact is that the BJP had tried very hard to acquire some stake in these States but had failed miserably.

The BJP has taken some satisfaction in the fact that it has increased its strength in the Assam Assembly from 7 to 10. But this by itself is no great achievement for the second largest national party in India when it has been badly rebuffed in all the polls.  In Tamil Nadu where it had secured four seats in the 2001 election, it drew a blank this time.

The party failed in its attempt to open its account in Kerala, though it has been quite confident before the counting that it would secure atleast two seats.  In West Bengal where it had an electoral alliance with the Trinamul Congress, its score was nil.  It won just one seat in the Union Territory of Pondicherry, but this can be of little comfort to a national party which had put in earnest efforts to extend its political influence beyond the Hindi belt which still remains its main domain.

Reverses in elections are a common feature in the history of political parties in a democratic system and the parties have to take them in their stride along with the victories they score.  However, if electoral reverses indicate a trend of decline it should become a cause for serious concern to the parties concerned.

The election results in the last few years have clearly signnaled such a trend for the national level political parties and the present results are confirming the trend. It will be a grave mistake if the national parties do not take serious note of this fact and take corrective measures.

All said and done one thing is clear, crystal clear: Indian polity has stepped into a dynamic phase in its glorious annals. ---INFA

 (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)


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