Wednesday, April 18, 2012

State Elections, 2012

Widely perceived as a litmus test for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the results of the five Assembly polls, declared on March 6, 2012, served as a serious warning for the Congress in general, and its heir-apparent Rahul Gandhi in particular, about the party’s capability to lead the country once again.

Punjab: The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP alliance made history by overcoming anti-incumbency to retain power for the second consecutive term, thus creating history in the Punjab electoral politics. By winning 56 seats on its own and with its alliance partner BJP winning 12 seats, this is the first time in Punjab’s history that a ruling party has been voted back to power.

By wrestling 68 of the 117 Assembly sets, the Akali BJP combine has got a formidable lead over its main rival, Congress, which has won 46 seats. While three independents have won at the hustings, the Third Front under the banner of “Sanjha Morcha” failed to get any seat. The People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) which was part of the third front failed to open its account.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal was sworn-in as the Chief Minister on March 14.

Uttar Pradesh: The Samajwadi Party won a landslide victory and formed the government without any outside support. It won 224 seats of the 403-member Assembly. While the projection of Mulayum Singh Yadav’s son Akhilsh Singh Yadav as the party’s new face proved to be a real winner, the SP’s ride to power was also helped as it was seen as the strongest party capable of dislodging the Mayawati government.

The results were a personal blow for AICC general secretary and Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi.  His intensive and aggressive campaign failed to deliver as the Congress was unable to add substantially to its tally of 22 seats.

Akhilesh Yadav, son of Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, was elected as the youngest Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, representing a generational shift in a State whose politics is dominated by caste and religion. He was sworn in on March 15.

Goa: The Digambar Kamat-led Congress government in Goa suffered an embarrassing defeat with most of its stalwarts biting the dust, mainly at the hands of newbies fielded by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP which, along with its ally the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), bagged a majority (24 seats) in the 40-member Assembly said it had received the support of vast sections of the Goan people. Congress could win only 9 seats.

Mr Manohar Parrikar was sworn-in as the Chief Minister on March 9.

Uttarakhand: Voters in Uttarakhand delivered a hung House, with both the Congress and the BJP falling short by four and five seats, respectively, for a simple majority in the Assembly of 70 members. While the Congress won 32 seats, BJP bagged 31. BSP got 3 seats and Independents 4.

The biggest surprise, however, was the defeat of Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri, who had spearheaded BJP’s campaign.

Mr Vijay Bahuguna of Congress was elected as the Chief Minister of the State.

Manipur: Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh once again proved that he is a hard nut to crack. The veteran Congressman led the party to the third consecutive victory in Manipur, the most troubled state in the North-East, belying speculation about a hung Assembly.

The Congress victory is commendable in the sense that after so many life-sapping national highway blockades during the last regime of Ibobi Singh, the people of Manipur have chosen to opt for the “development and stability” plank of the Congress, ignoring the rag-tag alliance of Opposition parties that failed to project one single formidable leader as the chief ministerial candidate.

The blanket boycott call given by a coordination committee of all the insurgent groups in the valley areas of Manipur had severely hampered electioneering of Congress candidates, but voters were not impressed by the highhandedness of militants who tried to dictate terms to the voters through the gun.

The poll outcome indicates that the Trinamool Congress could impress some voters in the troubled State, while the regional Nagaland People’s Front (NPF) failed to make new ground despite fielding more candidates in the elections this time.

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