Thus spake Democracy…

Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 2:34 PM

The election drama that began a few weeks back when the poll dates were announced by the EC ended in a fitting climax today. The Indian voter came out to vote and made his voice heard. In an India of rickety coalition politics, the voter braved the scorching heat to decisively vote for a stable government.

Stability was the keyword that was reflected in today’s verdict. While psephologists across the board were busy churning out unsure numbers, the voters stunned them all by passing a near-majority verdict in favor of the UPA. The Congress in alliance with its partners (DMK included, SP excluded) closed at the 261 mark, just 11 seats short of a simple majority. Most exit polls were proved wrong with Congress garnering 206 seats alone and emerging as the single largest party.

Game changers and Surprises

Tamil Nadu
The southern state that had expected to see a resurgence of Jayalalitha’s AIADMK lost ground to Karunanidhi’s DMK yet again (once before in the assembly elections). The victory added a major number of seats to the UPA’s kitty. Jaya’s hopes to be a kingmaker in central politics were rudely shattered. As was the three-woman-syndrome.

Uttar Pradesh
Behenji Mayawati disappointed with a weaker than expected show in the state. Placed behind Congress and SP, her party BSP failed to garner any major seats in the 80-seat state. With misplaced Prime-Ministerial ambitions, seems Maya overlooked the essentials of winning on home turf. Her extravagant birthday ‘bash’es only made things worse. The three-woman-syndrome was further weakened. Congress on the other hand, managed to gain equal footing as Mulayam and Maya. Its decision to go it alone in the state seemed to have paid off. No castles in the air, here. The UP verdict was a rightful slap on the face of regional politics.

West Bengal
We saw the Left biting dust with the Trinamool-Congress alliance racing past them to gain major seats in the state. Karat and Yechury’s Third Front lost ground with this defeat. Congress must be patting its back for staying put with Mamata Banerjee in the race. Seems at least one lady out of the three-woman-syndrome managed to play well in the battlefield.

Kerala, usually an alternate swing state, swung in the direction of Congress this time. Shashi Tharoor won Thiruvananthapuram with a heavy margin. The Left front bore hefty losses. Although also facing Assembly elections, the results there were slightly different.

Compared to last time, the Congress gained almost 16 seats in this 25-seat state. With a tally of 20, it lost only 4 seats to the BJP (17 down from last time) and 1 to an independent. This was a tectonic shift that contributed to swinging the scales in the direction of the UPA at the centre. The result was much in line with the Assembly elections last year where Congress had displaced Varundhara Raje’s BJP government and made heavy gains.

Astounding as the result was, the Congress swept all 7 seats in Delhi this time. From amongst the winners, Kapil Sibal and Sandeep Dikshit registered the largest margins of victory from their Chandni Chowk and East Delhi constituencies respectively.

Modi’s BJP won the state, but the difference in seats from the Congress was smaller than what was expected. UPA seemed to be closing in on the NDA in this key state as well. Not a spectacular landslide as was projected by many psephologists.

Madhya Pradesh
A scene similar to the one in Gujarat played out here. BJP won the state but the actual margin of victory was narrower than what had been projected by several political commentators.

Other states

Naveen Patnaik’s BJD swept this state, both in Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. The BJP paid heavily for its disassociation with Patnaik. In Orissa, it was almost a one-man spectacle.

Another one-man show state, Nitish Kumar reined major power here by winning 32 seats (12 of the BJP) out of the 40 available in this state. Lalu and his supposed ‘Fourth Front’ faced a serious browbeat. Last we checked on him, he was regretting his decision to break away from the UPA.

Andhra Pradesh
The Congrees, once again, beat popular sentiment by delivering a better than expected performance in the state by picking 35 of the 42 seats that were up for grabs. Film star Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam Party also put up a decent show.

Congress was way ahead of the NCP here, something that came as a dampener to Sharad Pawar and his Prime-Ministerial ambitions. NDA only did marginally well than was expected. In South Mumbai, Milind Deora thankfully beat the threat posed by ABN-AMRO’s Meera Sanyal (if you look at the numbers, it was in fact hardly a fight) and registered a clean sweep for the Congress. Priya Dutt also won from Mumbai North Central constituency.

What worked for the UPA?
The obvious answer to this question is its projection of itself as an alliance concerned with developmental politics. With main focus on infrastructure, the UPA won over several hearts by its promises to build the nation. Another factor that contributed to its win was its secular image. Indian voters did not want communal parties to rule at the centre to aggravate an already cumbersome mess created by class politics. Aggressive campaigning by the Gandhi scions also helped the UPA in scoring crucial points. People’s need for stability in governance at a time when grave dangers like volatile neighbors and economic recession were facing the country also compelled voters to turn in the Congress’s direction. Tired of the challenges thrown by coalition politics, the voter recognized the need to vote a national party back in power. In light of BJP’s eroding goodwill, the only sensible option was that of the UPA. Congress also managed to play the NREGS and RTI cards well. Along with these factors, what also worked for this alliance is what failed to work for the other alliances.

What went wrong for the NDA?
The confusion that erupted regarding the Prime Ministerial candidate must have cost the BJP quite a few votes. With Modi’s increasing unpopularity after Godhra, the people got averse to voting for the party with the fear of seeing him occupying the PM’s post. Varun Gandhi’s hate speeches in Pilibhit also corroded the party’s leftover secular credentials. Generally, as well, people refused to vote for the BJP due to its communal image and a no-apology stand regarding 2002. A break up with major coalition partners like the BJD in Orissa also cost the party dear.

What went wrong for the Left and its Third Front?
The flip-flop between offering a non-Congress non-BJP alliance, and also offering any support to the Congress to ‘keep the BJP out of power’, came back to hit the Third Front hard on the face. Never really a force to reckon with, the idea to provide such a front failed miserably when the results were announced. Compared to last time, the Left lost almost half its seats. The unpopularity could be due to the Left’s opposition of the Indo-US nuclear deal and its subsequent withdrawal of support that led to a show of strength. Also the voters this time seemed to oppose any kind of extremist ideologies, left or right.

What went wrong for the Fourth Front?
Lalu-Mulayam-Paswan’s Fourth Front proved to be the ‘shame of the season’ with a dismal tally of 27 seats, as opposed to 64 seats last time (approximate figure, keeping in mind the delimitation changes). In a scenario like this, I am sure the trio must be condemning the day they decided to break forces with the UPA and embark on a political journey with three separate Prime-Ministerial aspirants running amok.

Crux of the discussion: What do the results imply?
All “Prime-Ministers-in-waiting” were shown the dust with people opting for national parties instead of regional ones. The two biggest parties that emerged were the Congress and BJP, much to the surprise of glorified psephologists who had predicted the trend in favor of a hung parliament. The ‘landsweep’ by the UPA proved all conservative estimates wrong. The Congress must be patting its back for going at it alone in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. The Trinamool and DMK alliance too bore fruit.

The voters were smarter than what we would have thought them to be. Undeterred by showy campaigning, they took the spotlight away from regional players and put it back on national parties. By doing so, they cut oversized political ambitions back to size and ensured stability for the nation. Now, once the UPA is sworn back to power we hope that it delivers on the promises it made in these elections. The people have put immense faith in Dr. Manmohan Singh by voting him back, and what awaits him is the onerous task of fulfilling these expectations. We hope that he has a successful tenure as a re-elected Prime Minister and manages to live up to the task entrusted to him.


nice insightful post yet again...though i think you voted for the other party :P
chal abhi thoda sa books pe bhi meherbaan ho jaao :)

Insigtful and detailed... goes to show that you know what you are talking about...

Apart from what you've already covered, BJP also lost heavily because Advani is not considered to be a worthy Priministerial Candidate by many voters, if not all. Secondly, promises made by BJP, like waiver of loans given to farmers, subsidized food etc can only have negative impact in the long run. Already, and this I can say from personal experience, farmers - even those who are capable of repaying, have stopped considering repayment of loans taken from nationalized banks, as sooner or later government writes it off!!

As you correctly mentioned, many unworthy candidates had to bite dust. All that remains to be seen is whether UPA is able to deliver in this term or not.

Spake is the archaic form of usage of spoke; u can either, since both communicate the same meaning - to converse or articulate
the third line needs revisting; india has been witness to rickety coalitions for twenty years now since that first rule breaking election of 1989.
insightful writeup still; for my views u shall have to come back to twenty2yards...though since you have covered all of the factual occurences of this election, i shall have to be imaginative :)
good piece, well written

Nice post!

will tell you a bit more about Bengal! In Singur, Trinamool Congress won by over 200,000 votes. Forcible land aquisitions dont work. What also does not work. iIt is this one factor alone that will be enough to TATA byebye the corrupt left. Once and for all!

Long long post but was worth the read :)
The final verdict seems to have dashed a lot of high hopes and brought a lot of high-flying people to ground. The most noticeable aspect of the final result is that the Congress party is again finding acceptance amongst the voters in UP (the state with the highest numbers in Lok Sabha) which reflects well for Indian Democracy.
On a side note, Shashi Tharoor won. Yay! :D

@rohan: dont spill my political preferences all over the internet :P thx for the comment :)

@gagan: yup, i agree with the two points you stated out. thx for the longish comment and also for dropping by :)

@Affy: Thx. I made the correction, although what i implied was left's negative impact (anti-reform mindset) over the upa for four long year until the alliance fell. Then SP was no good. Anyway, I shall wait for that post on twenty2yards :)

@bo: okay mr.bong. thanks for the insights :) also the comment.

@arunabh: seems everybody is happy for shashi (obvious!) and UP (not so obvious). thx for the comment :)

Good work yashika!!.. the results couldn't have been better... what could have been more than a whopping majority in the otherwise series of hugely scattered, desperate and shameful coalitions... thanks for the update(s) !!

Shakti says:

I learnt alot from this as i was not much following up on the elections..not much of a political viewer. Nice piece of information gal :)

insightful?? !! seems gagan and rohan are trying to butter you up. a nifty presentation no doubt but mostly factual.

RTI card played well? forget the rural masses honey, most (99%) city dwellers dont even know about this. You are right about NREGS but you missed the farm loan waiver. Its these two schemes of distributing money, esp in the pre-poll year that worked for the singh.

Now, this is what i call true insight.

-from the master ;)

@saik: thanks for the praise! :)

@shakti: glad to help :P

@praveen: blowing your own trumpet? :P thx for dropping by, though!

sweet analysis

jandeep says:

well written..good to see that you know your facts well and also that you're happily agreeing with the public decision....even if that wasn't what you initially wanted!!

@alok: thanks.

@jans: what i like abt your comments is the positive, optimistic tone. thanks :)

crisp yet wholesome... I have no interest in politics, yet I was kinda surprised to see the 3-woman-syndrome shattered. along with failure of laloo. i knew modi wd win in gujarat, and mp being bjp was no surprise. felt very happy with congress winning hands down in delhi! rajasthan was surprising too. wonder whats in store for maharashtra. totally agree with you about the communal image of bjp keading to its defeat, and stability and building the nation image of congress giving it the edge. all in all interesting results, though i was pretty sure congress wd win. and i wanted congress too. last but not the least, kudos to teh jaago re campaign for making more people go out and vote.

@aditi: jaagore made me go out and vote! brilliant campaign. anyway, yeah i more or less was aware of your views on politics n politicians. congrats on the poll you did that proved correct :) better than most polls they did on tv :D thx for visiting n keep commenting :)

hee hee hee

Anita Belani says:

good work!

It seems you are quite a fan of IBN, the analysis here seems more of the elaboration of the results. And about who won the election and who lost is consequential elaboration of results.
It is good that UPA won and better NDA lost.
But overall I am very disappointed with the way the elections were fought, no real debates; nothing of national importance was discussed or debated.

I am happy UPA came to power and Congress is in 'decisive' position.The cabinet also looks good :)

Nice Post!!

@anita masi: so you did find the time to read! thx :)

@sid: i agree. not many national issues found space. although like many readers, u spilled your political preferences too!
abt ibn, i like ndtv too :)

@aneesha: is it a 'secret ballot' or what? :P but you're right... cabinet looks good. and most importantly, clean. thx for the comment :)


nice overview of the polling results.
well written once again.I m happy for I wanted UPA into power.Please gimme some part of this talent of urs.

a fan of urs.

Nice post. I am not into politics. This gave me a good insight into what was happeneing.

I like the template for your blog.


@mahi: 'talent' n 'fan'? im overwhelmed :) thanks! keep visiting.

@jas: yeah comments have been pouring in for the template. thx :)

@brat: u have a funny online name, brat :)

thoughtful post.. though i wud like to state that the major flaw of the NDA campaign was their excessive criticism of the mannohan government.. they concentrated more on UPA negatives instead of highlighting their own positives.. and foremost, i feel this version of India is much more smart than the older ones.. they know what they are doing..
And i seriously hope Lalgarh cools down soon.
PS.. wonderful template.. can i borrow it??..:)

@gangeyyo: go ahead... copy it :P

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