Elections 2011: Jubilation of Congress misplaced
by Hari Om on 19 May 2011 2 Comments

The people of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry have given their verdict, and the winning parties are now in the process of forming their respective governments. In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress of the mercurial Mamata Banerjee, in alliance with the Congress Party, has scored a magnificent victory, ending the 34-year-long rule (misrule) of the Left parties, led by the CPI-M led by the arrogant and unaccommodating Prakash Karat.


The Trinamool alone captured 184 seats in a house of 294 (from 36 in 2006). The Congress, not even the C-team of Mamata in West Bengal, increased its tally from 21 to 42. Courtesy: Mamata Banerjee. Union Finance Minister and West Bengal Congress chief Pranab Mukherjee rightly described the Left defeat as “her (Mamata’s) victory.”


The people of West Bengal wanted to get rid of the Left. Corruption was an important factor in the Bengal elections, but the people’s first choice was a non-Left government and hence they reposed confidence in the street fighter called Mamata, now Leader of the Trinamool Congress Legislature Party.


It’s good riddance to the Left, all the more so because the Indian Left has never considered India as one nation. It has all along advocated that India is a congregation of nations and derived inspiration from non-Indian sources. The Indian Left has consistently sought to promote fundamentalism of a particular variety, giving legitimacy to those in Kashmir who wish New Delhi to quit the Valley. Prakash Karat and his colleagues have always advocated granting maximum possible autonomy to Kashmir. There are also elements in the Indian Left who always want New Delhi to strike a one-sided truce with Pakistan. Hence, the defeat of the Left is not just a matter of Mamata’s politics, but has many implications – all positive – the foremost being that it has weakened the Kashmiri separatists to an extent.     


In Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK scored a spectacular victory over the corrupt-to-the-core DMK. Jayalalithaa contested elections in alliance with several outfits, including the CPI-M and the CPI, and captured as many as 200 seats in a house of 234. The AIADMK alone captured 148 seats. The Congress was reduced from 34 to a paltry 5. The DMK-Congress had never suffered such a humiliating defeat and the fundamental factors that decimated the two were the unholy Rs 176 lakh crore 2G Spectrum and other scams, and their arrogance.


The 2G Spectrum scam and trial involving family members of Karunanidhi, including his wife and daughter, and several affiliated sympathizers, not only made the DMK vulnerable but created an impression across the country that whatever happened was because of Congress’ complicity and involvement. The Congress tried to defend the jailed former Telecom Minister Andimuthu Raja and others, but public pressure, media and the Supreme Court left Congress with no alternative but to act, though with obvious reluctance. Recall that the new crude and rude Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal once claimed there was “zero loss” in the allocation of spectrum.   


In Kerala, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) dislodged the CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF), but with a slender margin of four seats, just one seat more than required to form the government. The UDF captured 72 seats in a house of 126 and the LDF 68. The Congress tally was just 38, as compared to the CPM’s tally of 45, though Congress had expected a landslide victory. Obviously corruption played a significant role in the elections. The Congress expected a thumping majority, based on past experience, as Kerala does not allow any front to rule for two consecutive terms. Thus, LDF would have created history of sorts if Prakash Karat had not played foul with Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan. He was given a ticket and a mandate only towards the fag end of the polls – just enough to stave off defeat, not enough to pull through…


Thus, Congress has won in Kerala only technically. It will now have to depend upon the Muslim League, which has won 20 seats, and will call a number of shots. Congress has suffered a great political setback in Kerala; UDF got just 0.10 per cent more votes than the LDF.


The election results in Tamil Nadu and Kerala have left none in doubt that voters in these two states were not influenced by AICC general secretary and Congress’ prime ministerial candidate Rahul Gandhi. The failure of the Congress in these two major southern states was in fact the failure of Rahul Gandhi, who not only taunted the octogenarian Achuthanandan, but fielded a number of young-men in the two states, a bulk of whom suffered humiliating defeats.


In the Union Territory, Puducherry, the ruling Congress-DMK combine, mired in corruption scandals, suffered a huge setback at the hands of rebel N. Rangasamy, who left the party only months ago and tied up with the AIADMK. The NR Congress-AIADMK combine captured as many as 20 seats in a house of 30 (NR Congress 15 seats; AIADMK 5). Congress could capture only 7 seats and DMK a paltry two. Four basic factors helped the NR Congress- AIADMK make the Congress-DMK bite the dust. These – apart from some local factors – included neck deep involvement of the Congress-DMK in corruption, arrogance and obstinacy of the Congress leadership, anti-people hard bargains between the two, high prices of goods of daily use, and the urge of the people for a change.


Assam was the only state where the people reposed faith in the Congress party for the third time in a row (78 seats out of 126). This was basically the personal victory of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who over the years opened channels with those responsible for most of the troubles in Assam, notwithstanding the fact of serious charges of corruption against him. There continues to be a foreign hand in what Assam witnessed during the past decades. Several forces are operating in the North Eastern states, and the track record of the Congress is not satisfactory. It has been hobnobbing with certain questionable elements, including subversives and anti-national elements, for years. In fact, Congress has created a situation that has facilitated the task of anti-India forces to radically change the demographic profile of Assam, all for a vote bank. This also happened in West Bengal. 


Though the people of Assam were fed up with the corrupt Congress-led Government and were facing serious problems arising out of high food prices and scarcity of essential goods, their main objective was to elect a government that could ensure stability and meet the challenge posed by outfits like the Bodo People’s Front. They had no viable choice but to pin faith in Tarun Gogoi. The opposition was vertically divided, with each group pulling in different directions. The All-Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AGP), which once ruled Assam, and the BJP, which hoped to raise its tally from 10 to over 20, failed to enter into a pre-poll alliance and could win only 10 and 3 seats, respectively. All in all, the people of Assam voted for political stability in the otherwise troubled state.


The outcome of the assembly elections in five states is just one part of the story and shows that Congress has not done well, Assam being the only exception. The Congress suffered humiliating defeat in by-elections in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Nagaland and Uttar Pradesh. It lost all the 8 seats it contested. In Andhra Pradesh, Jaganmohan Reddy strengthened his claim to YSR’s political legacy, emerging victorious in Kadapa parliamentary constituency with a margin of over five lakh votes. His mother Vijaya Lakshmi trounced her brother-in-law Vivekananda Reddy and re-entered the Assembly.


In Nagaland, the Congress veteran and former chief minister S.C. Jamir suffered defeat in Aaonglenden assembly seat, dashing his hopes of returning to Nagaland politics after a decade of gubernatorial assignments in Maharashtra and Goa. The ruling Naga People's Front candidate Toshikopba Longkumer won. In Chhattisgarh, BJP candidate Dinesh Kashyap defeated his nearest rival Lakhma Kawasi of Congress by over 85,000 votes to win the Bastar Lok Sabha constituency. The BJP retained the seat.


In Karnataka, BJP’s C.P. Yogeshwar wrested Chennapatna from JD(S) rival S.L. Nagaraj, by over 12000 votes. In Jagalur (ST) constituency, BJP’s S.V. Ramachandra defeated rival H.P. Rajesh (Independent, BJP rebel) by 4,433 votes. In Bangarpet (SC), BJP’s M. Naryanaswamy defeated Congress’ K.M. Naryanaswamy by 4,044 votes. BJP wrested Bangarapet and Jagalur seats from Congress. As a result, BJP’s strength in the 224-member Karnataka Assembly rose to 109; Congress continues with 71 and JD-S 26.


In Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party candidate Rajmati Nishad defeated her nearest rival Jitendra (Independent) in Pipraich Assembly by-poll by a margin of 26,683 votes. The Congress candidate was nowhere.


The victory of non-Congress candidates in these by-elections indicates that the people have by and large turned away from the Congress. This means Congress is in deep trouble. Even otherwise, Congress is not strong in most major states. In Orissa, Biju Janata Dal has virtually rendered the Congress irrelevant. In West Bengal, Congress is at the mercy of Mamata, who is volatile and concerned with her own party interests. In Bihar, Congress has no presence at all. In Jharkhand, it Congress is a spent force. In Uttar Pradesh, its support-base is limited. The major players here are the BSP and the Samajwadi party, with BJP and Congress fighting for third or fourth position.


In Punjab, Congress, which is out of power, is vertically divided into two groups. In Himachal Pradesh, Congress is on a weak wicket, though here also, as in Kerala, people tend to change government every five years. In Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress is called the B-team of the National Conference. The National Conference calls the shots and Congress is losing support even in Jammu province, its core constituency, as it merely endorses whatever the National Conference says and does, including its politics of greater autonomy and discriminatory policies towards Jammu.


In Chhattisgarh, the Congress is very weak and the recent by-election returned the BJP candidate to the Lok Sabha with a huge margin. In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress is deeply faction-ridden, and the politics of former chief minister Digvijay Singh is counter-productive. He is following in the footsteps of late Arjun Singh, who promoted Muslim communalism to the hilt. In Gujarat, Congress cannot match Narendra Modi. In Karnataka, the recently-held by-elections have demonstrated that Congress has eroded its support-base, despite the fact that the BJP government has been facing serious corruption charges. In Tamil Nadu, Congress stands totally decimated. It may try to befriend Jayalalithaa, but the new Chief Minister is a person who can leave her political friends anytime.


In Maharashtra, Congress is thoroughly unpopular. Most Congress ministers are facing serious corruption charges, and some top-ranking leaders are involved in the Adarsh Society scam. Besides, Congress is sharing power with Nationalist Congress Party of Sharad Pawar, which has its own agenda and has in the Assembly seats equal to the Congress. And Sharad Pawar’s highly corrupt outfit is dictating terms. The position of the Congress in Goa is no different. It is in power only because it has manipulated a slender majority.


Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan – apart from Assam – are the only states where Congress is ruling on its own strength. But if the results in Andhra Pradesh are any indication, Congress will suffer huge reverses in the next Assembly election. The Jagan Reddy factor, party politics within Congress and Telengana are factors that will go against the Congress. As for Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan, reports suggest that the Congress is at the receiving end. Chief Ministers Sheila Dixit, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Ashok Gehlot have earned public ire for failing the people and for being arrogant and inaccessible.


Thus, Congress is out of power in Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu; is at the mercy of Trinamool Congress, National Conference, Nationalist Congress Party in West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Maharashtra; and is on a weak wicket in states where it is ruling.


Congress has become thoroughly unpopular and the hoodwinked and cheated electorate may throw it out of office in 2014. It is a different matter that veterans like Pranab Mukherjee are jubilant over the election results and taunting the BJP for winning only 5 assembly seats. Congress is refusing to see the writing on the wall, which says that the people across the country feel that Congress stands for corruption, scandals, corporate houses, murderers of democracy, arrogance, fissiparous tendencies, blunders, including compromises on issues of national import such as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India. This Congress controlled by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi now awaits its Nemesis.   


The author is former Chair Professor, Maharaja Gulab Singh Chair, University of Jammu, Jammu, & former member Indian Council of Historical Research

User Comments Post a Comment

Back to Top