Assembly Elections in five States
Amba Charan Vashishth
The results of assembly elections in the five States of Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, UP and Manipur declared on March 6 have sent out many messages loud and clear. For the Congress the countdown for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections has begun.
The myth of Congress heir apparent Rahul Gandhi having a charisma too stands shattered more convincingly than ever. Although he made his electoral presence felt in all the States, except Manipur, yet he concentrated himself in UP which he made his launching pad for the greater electoral battles, particularly the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. His political ambitions seem to have failed to take off, going by the drubbing his party Congress received in UP at the hands of the electorate. He was the only visible face in the election campaign; others were just marking their presence lest they were marked absent from the campaign. Even his mother Congress president Sonia Gandhi made a customary presence in the campaign. The campaign was so much Rahul centric that he never cared to introduce his party’s candidates when he went to address election meetings in particular assembly constituencies. This, perhaps, he did in the mistaken view that all the votes that were going to be cast were not for the candidate, not for the Congress but for Rahul and Rahul alone.
Rahul tumbled down
Congress tally in UP struggled to touch a figure of 29. Congress has 22 Lok Sabha MPs, the number for which credit was given only to Rahul in 2009. But going by that performance, Congress should have got not less than 100 seats in the latest Vidhan Sabha elections. But Congress under Rahul was hoping to aspire for a much higher number. Therefore, if the Congress kitty is poorer than before, the credit and discredit too should go to Rahul. But Rahul apologists claimed that he had vowed to dethrone the anti-people Mayawati government and this is where he has succeeded. The ignoramuses fail to distinguish that it is not Rahul but Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav who have dethroned her. A queer case of Rahul sycophants trying to grab other’s achievement as their own!
Unexpectedly, Rahul did exhibit the sportsmanship to accept responsibility for defeat, but added that it was because of poor organisation and weak fundamentals in the State unit. Sonia Gandhi too spoke of poor organisation. But this excuse is no tribute to their organisational capacity because after all he was galvanising force for the party for over two-and-a-half years and why did he fail to discern this weakness before the results were out. And who was to do it—either he or his mother Sonia Gandhi? If they did not, that is the failure of both.
The Gandhi family have rightly been described as ‘electoral tourists’ because after the tourist season of elections they disappear to the comforts of their Delhi mansions visiting their parliamentary constituencies occasionally not even for two days a month on an average. Sister Priyankta Vadara too appears on the scene to help her brother and mother. This time she glamourised on the election campaign with her husband and two children on the stage to enjoy the election season. Her husband projected her as the man after Rahul and even expressed his ambition to jump the electoral arena. A year back, he had even boasted of winning from any constituency in the country. The electorate saw through their game and packed the Gandhi family with bag and baggage. Sonia Gandhi faced the ignominy of Congress being completed routed out from her Rae Bareily parliamentary constituency while in Rahul’s Amethi Congress could win only 2 seats out of 5 segments.
Even Bhatta-Parsaul where Rahul shed a hundred crocodile tears on the plight of farmers gave him a cold shoulder.
Cold shoulder in Bhatta-Parsaul
The problem of the people, particularly the Dalits, was the roti, kapda aur makan. He thought he would hoodwink them with a visit to a dalit home. He hurt the native psyche when he pined that UP boys “had to beg” in Punjab, Maharashtra and elsewhere. At the Centre and in Congress-ruled States his party was promoting corruption and protecting the corrupt and in UP he tried to project himself as a great warrior against corruption. He failed to touch and speak of the solution to the burning problems of rising prices and inflation, rising unemployment, shortages of essential commodities, black-marketing, terrorism and providing security of life and property – issues that hurt the common citizen the most.
Salman ‘sacrifice’ in vain
Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid who was ready to gladly go to the gallows for the cause of Muslim reservation got humiliated at the hands of electorate when he failed to make his wife win the assembly seat.
Congress, in fact, had no programme of action but only gimmicks to dupe the voter. For winning the election it could go to any length; it could stoop to any low at whatever cost to the country in the long run. To appease the Muslim minority Congress launched a rat race between different political parties to promise the moon of reservation on religious basis.
The only solace to Congress is the victory in Manipur where it had no challenge. In other four States, it ended up losing power to BJP in Goa and registering no gains either in UP, Punjab and Uttarakhand. It failed to cash in on any anti-incumbency of BJP-SAD in Punjab, of BJP in Uttarakhand where the ruling parties were able to overcome this factor through sheer power of development and good governance. It had nothing to present anything that could catch the electorate’s fancy.
Congress loses Goa
BJP dethroned Congress by winning a clear majority with 21 seats and a total of 24 with its ally the MGP. BJP gave a lie to its detractors who dubbed it as a Hindu party against minorities. This time BJP fielded six Catholic Christian candidates who all won. Corruption and mining scams contributed to
In Punjab BJP-SAD re-wrote history by bouncing back to power with a thumping majority of 68 (BJP 12, SAD 56) in a house of 117. BJP had contested 23 seats only. It is the first time since 1967 that a ruling party has been returned to power for the second successive term.
Manpreet hype punctured
The much media hyped SAD rebel Manpreet Singh Badal, who formed the Punjab Peoples’ Party (PPP), had to lick dust of defeat in both the constituencies he contested and was relegated to third position. Earlier, he had won the Gidderbaha seat consecutively for three times as a SAD candidate. His father, Gurdas Singh Badal who challenged his elder brother and CM Prakash Singh Badal lost his security deposit even. PPP could not get even a single seat in assembly.
Congress under the leadership of Capt. Amrinder Singh had to feel content with a poor second with 46 seats. Though the Capt. won his traditional Patiala constituency, his son Raninder Singh lost in a neighbouring constituency by a margin of 6,930 votes.
Punjab BJP President Shri Ashwani Sharma won his Pathankot seat by a margin of about 18,000 votes.
Uttar Pradesh was a setback for BJP’s calculations. With 47 seats (4 less than last election) it scored the third position with Congress getting relegated to the fourth position. Congress got 29 (7 more from last time) while its ally RLD got 8.
Another setback for BJP was in Uttarakhand where it could not score clear majority with Congress winning 32 and BJP 31. But BJP is hoping to form a government with the help of one BJP rebel and one Uttarakhand Kranti Dal MLA. While CM B. C. Khanduri lost.
BJP retains much to smile
In all, although results in UP and Uttarakhand have not been, in the words of BJP national president Shri Nitin Gadkari, entirely according to our expectations, yet gaining Goa and retaining Punjab are the two new feathers in Gadkari’s cap soon after the stunning victories in municipal elections in Maharashtra. Gadkari and his team has proved its mettle in the elections.
Now UPA, Opposition bracing for Rajya Sabha polls
The polls-weary UPA and the Opposition are now bracing themselves for another crucial battle of the ballot—this time in the Rajya Sabha.
The first trial of strength between the UPA and the Opposition will be in Rajya Sabha where the election for the deputy chairman is due to be held in April. Since biennial polls for the 58 Rajya Sabha seats will be completed on March 30 and three MPs are to be nominated by the President, it will be an interesting battle.
The Opposition parties, including the BJP and Left and other non-UPA secular parties, have tasted blood in the Rajya Sabha when they defeated the Government sponsored Lokpal and Lokayukta bill during the winter session. The Congress doesn’t have a majority on its own and even its key ally Trinamool Congress (TMC) showed its muscle in the Upper House on several occasions. Therefore, the Congress is not sure whether it will be in a position to get its own person re-elected as Deputy Chairman, sources said.
The Opposition may ask the secular parties to choose their candidate and NDA may support it to embarrass the Congress. Biju Janata Dal candidate Pyarimohan Mohapatra is likely to emerge as a common candidate. Ramgopal Yadav, brother of Mulayam Singh Yadav, is a strong contender for the post of Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha and straws in the wind suggest that the BJP may support his candidature as part of its strategy to keep the SP, which is on an upswing, in good humour. (FOC)
Punjab dumps Dera Sachcha Sauda
Political corridors in the national capital are agog with curiosity in one interesting trend that the recent Punjab assembly polls have thrown up. The Congress may have lost the plot in Punjab, but it was the once powerful religious sect Dera Sachcha Sauda of Baba Ram Rahim which was wiped out completely.
So intense was the wave that even the “samdhi” of Baba Ram Rahim, Harminder Singh Jassi lost from Bhattal. And the margin was not small either. It was more than 6000 votes. In fact, Jassi contested on the Congress ticket and that was one of the reasons for Dera to lend support to the Congress in these elections, sources said. Equally shocking is that the Congress lost miserably in the Malwa region of Punjab.
The Akali Dal got 33 seats from this region instead of 19 secured during 2007 Assembly polls. The Congress party’s declared chief ministerial candidate Capt Amarinder Singh, his wife Preneet Kaur and son Raninder were among 200 candidates who were blessed by Baba Ram Rahim. It seems that Shiromani Akali Dal’s Sukhbir Singh Badal’s latest gadgets and electoral technology has done better than what Baba had been doing for decades.