Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Elections 2009 - As the dust settles down...

It is a well known fact that when the losing party accepts defeat gracefully and with humility, respect from all quarters pours in. For 5 years, the BJP was unable to do it and finally it seems that the party is left with little option.

As opposed to the 2004 verdict which was a little muddled thanks to the looming presence of the charismatic AB Vajpayee, this time, the mandate is squarely in favor of the congress party. If one looks at the reasons, they are not difficult to find. They would help the losers introspect and the victor to be responsible and thankful to the electorate.

  • The BJP leadership was not appealing to the masses with LK Advani's image far from being clean. The vacuum was hard to fill. Internal squabbles due to strong personalities in Jaswant Singh, Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley resulted in a less than cohesive unit. Darjeeling and Telengana proved that the party was power hungry.
  • A motley group of regional parties - DMDK in TN, Praja Rajyam in AP and MNS in Maharashtra - helped split the anti congress vote. In some cases, people were suspicious as was the case with SP and BSP in UP. Mayawati was ready to join any combine while Kalyan Singh was welcomed to the folds of SP. As a result, the congress gamble paid off handsomely.
  • The Left overestimated its prowess and is left badly bruised and shattered. It failed to read the voter; the increasing awareness among the electorate led to its downfall. It might be a while before there can be a resurgence for Karat and Co if at all there is one.
  • The image of Manmohan Singh as a sincere and honest person won the congress, the votes of the middle class and the youth. The BJP lost a considerable chunk of middle class vote due to its negative campaign and its failure to offer a credible alternative policy framework in the absence of any single over arching issue.
  • The saturation of BJP in Karnataka, Gujarat and MP and its ally in Bihar meant it was always going to reap handsome rewards in these states and little elsewhere.
  • The singular failure of BJP to give its party a youthful look and the fortunate irony of Rahul Gandhi garnering the media support again led to first time voters rejecting the NDA in favor of the UPA.
  • Good monsoons and reasonable success of NREGA and populist policies ensured that though the coffers were getting drained, sizeable chunk of rural votes were a given.
This election also offered some insights. While the kind of identity politics presented by the MNS and celebrity power in the south were rejected, some incidents that were given obsessive attention by the media like the pub attack in Mangalore fell on the back burner for the electorate.

Looking forward to the next 5 years, the average Indian is happy that there is no commotion and mad scrambles. At the same time, several issues cry out for attention from security to Economy to Climate Change. We wait in anticipation and have high expectations from a team, that I am sure, has some able Men and Women ready to shoulder huge responsibilities.

I salute our democratic system and end this post!

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