No incremental take away for Congress?
The results of the recent assembly elections have been interpreted in several different ways. The BJP was never in contention in any of the five states and the fact that it was able to win only seven out of the 761 seats it contested or supported out of nearly 825 seats which went to the polls tells a story on its own.
There were also attempts to portray the polls as a victory for the UPA but that too is not true since the NCP, which is part of the ruling alliance at the Centre, was contesting along with the Left Democratic Front in Kerala. The Congress led UDF won the polls there by a whisker but its problems have just started. The Kerala elections clearly showed that the outgoing CM, Achutanandan was the man of the match and the UDF alliance with so many Muslim league MLAs is going to have a tough time. Moreover, the polarization on caste and religious lines in the state during the Parliamentary polls could put the Congress at a great disadvantage since the UDF victory is largely on the strength of the Christian and Muslim vote. The Hindu vote if it gets consolidated as a reaction at the time of Lok Sabha can tilt to the outcome in favour of the Left parties.
Surprisingly, the Congress win in Assam was carved out due to the strong backing of the Hindu vote in sharp contrast to what happened in Kerala. The utterances of some BJP leaders about a possible tie up with Badruddin Ajmal and his Muslim dominated outfit cost the Saffron brigade its Hindu vote share. In fact, the anti Congress vote got divided and the Hindus preferred to vote for the Congress and thereby the outcome demonstrated a very poor show both by the BJP and the AGP.
The Tamil Nadu results were on predicted lines and when I visited the state last month I got very much the feeling that there was a Jaya wave all over. I even wrote about it in my first dispatch from there. The Karunanidhi era is effectively over and I do not see the DMK returning to power given that there is total animosity between the two brothers, MK Stalin and Alagahiri. Karunanidhi wanted to settle the succession issue during his lifetime but has not succeeded. In the DMK the power could shift ultimately towards the Maran brothers who have the resources and the political acumen and image to pull it off some years from now.
Pudicherry debacle was always in the offing and the Congress is ultimately responsible for it. The party High command it seems listened to V.Narayanswamy, the minister of state in the PMO and the result was that the breakaway faction led by N.R.Rangaswamy trounced their old party colleagues on a slippery wicket. It is for the first time that the Congress has lost Pudicherry.
West Bengal is Mamata’s victory and as my colleague Sujata Anandan had written in her blog last week it is extremely commendable since Mamata is perhaps the only woman politician who has made it to the top without any Godfather or political backing from any heavyweight. Her success is very essential since the public expectations from her are very high. She is a bold and decisive woman and needs to be fully backed because the wounded Left will always want to get back at her. She has opened the door of Calcutta to liberal forces and hopefully the city will witness many changes along with the rest of the state.
Jaganmohan Reddy’s victory at Kadapa must be giving sleepless nights to Congress leaders of Andhra Pradesh. He has emerged on the top after beating both the Congress and the TDP and to my mind he is certain to be the Chief Minister one day like his illustrious father late YS Rajsekhar Reddy. But his victory has put a big question mark over the domination of the Congress in the state, which had brought it to power at the Centre both in 2004 and 2009.
If one looks at the political scenario all over the country, the Congress I would say has a lot to worry about. It has lost its foothold in the Southern states and is not doing too well in the North either. Karnataka is with the BJP, Kerala could move away from the Congress in the next Lok Sabha, Tamil Nadu is with Jaya and Andhra may belong to Jaganmohan. In Maharashtra, the possible patch up between the two cousins, Uddhav and Raj could pose problems for the NCP-Congress if the united Sena was to contest along with the BJP. Gujarat is with the BJP and so are Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand. Bihar is with Nitish and UP with Mayawati and Orissa with Naveen Patnaik. The situation may not change drastically during the next polls. Mamata is in command in Calcutta and Tarun Gogoi in Assam.
The Congress may have some advantage in the North East but it is going to be on the backfoot in Delhi and Rajasthan where it has governments. Corruption charges have cropped up against the CMs in these two states. Haryana will be a tough battle and so will be Punjab. Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir have marginal political significance with four seats each. The Congress must reinvent itself to make itself relevant. It is the only National party in terms of its presence and its survival is essential for national unity. But it is upto its High Command to go in for course correction.