Shipwrecks Everywhere


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It is unprecedented. Probably for the first time, a national party failed to win a single seat in a Lok Sabha election. But the BSP is not alone. Two major regional parties — the DMK and the National Conference — suffered the same fate. Add to the list two national — the SP (5) and the CPI(1) — and two regional outfits — AAP (4) and JD(U) (2) — who together won just 12 seats. In 2009, these parties sent 89 MPs to to the Lok Sabha. If you take out the newbie AAP from the equation, that is a loss of 81 seats.

Those who surfed the wave — the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu or the Trinamool Congress in Bengal — cannot sit smug either. They are grappling to contain the saffron surge that may upset all equations in the next Assembly polls. The BJP has won a seat in Tamil Nadu with an overall vote share of 5.5 percent, while the BJP-led six-party alliance won another and came second in five constituencies. The headache for Mamata Banerjee is bigger in Bengal, where the BJP bagged two seats and its vote share almost trebled to 17 percent.

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Curtains For The M&M Show

The saffron surge has left Mulayam scrambling to save his son’s regime and Mayawati with an existential dilemma, says Virendra Nath Bhatt

mulayam_akhlesh2The stunning results of the 2014 General Election have completely changed the political landscape of Uttar Pradesh. Until now, the mantra for political success was based on cobbling up a successful coalition of caste and community. But the saffron surge has changed all that. The BJP’s victory in Muslim-dominated seats or where Muslim voters are in sizeable number has also dealt a blow to the longheld paradigm that the minority community nurses a pathological hatred for the BJP.

The Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Congress — all strong claimants to the Muslim vote in Uttar Pradesh — have been wiped out. The BJP’s win in the state (71 out of the total 80 Lok Sabha seats on offer) has important lessons for everyone, from the Congress to the poll pundits to the Left-liberal intellectuals, even to the saffron party itself. But, the most important lesson of all has to be for the caste-based regional parties. Their decimation has raised a question on their very raison d’être. Are these political parties really representative of the SCs, OBCs and the Dalits, or are they deluding themselves into believing so?

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Nitish Down But Not Out

By quitting as CM and installing a Mahadalit in his place, Nitish Kumar has managed to quell dissent within the JD(U) for now. Nirala reports

Puppet CM? The BJP has alleged that Jitan Ram Manjhi (left) is being ‘used’ to safeguard the CM’s seat for Nitish Kumar

When the Lok Sabha results were being announced on 16 May, Nitish Kumar was anxiously watching out for the results of the bypolls in five Assembly constituencies. The JD(U) won in only one Assembly constituency, adding to the shock of its measly two-seat Lok Sabha tally.

JD(U) leaders are scurrying for cover, unable to explain the crushing debacle, and turning their backs on Nitish. Those who had so far been lauding Kumar as the only leader who could defeat Narendra Modi have now reversed their stand..

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Congress Demolished By The Telangana Curse

Narendra Modi sealed the fate of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana through a smart tie-up with the TDP. The Congress failed to read its implications. G Vishnu reports

chandrashekharAmong the many heartbreaks for the Congress on 16 May, counting day of the 16th General Election, the most painful must have been the party’s fate in Telangana and Seemandhra. The bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, carried out in an anarchic, cynical manner, gave the Congress its biggest debacle this election season. In what is nothing short of a nightmare for the party, it scored a humiliating duck in the 175 Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats in residual Andhra Pradesh.

To put things in perspective, the undivided state had given the Congress 156 of the 280 Assembly seats and 31 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the 2009 election. Andhra was thus a key state that enabled the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance to romp back to power that year.

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How The Congress Lost The Assam Plot

The Modi wave has pushed the Tarun Gogoi government to the brink. Can the CM survive the rebellion brewing in the party, asks Ratnadip Choudhury

GogoiSabita Orang, 54, a tea garden labourer from Lahoal in Assam’s Dibrugarh district, had been an ardent Congress supporter for the past three decades. But this time, she voted for the BJP. “We voted Congress every time, but the lives of the tea tribes (Migrant Adivasis working in Assam’s tea gardens) have remained as dismal as ever,” says Orang. “We are yet to get Scheduled Tribe status and our wages are pathetic. I thought now is the time for change.”

Since the first General Election in 1952, the Congress had lost the Dibrugarh seat only once. That was in 2004 when the BJP state chief Sarbananda Sonowal, who was then with the Asom Gana Parishad, won the prestigious seat in upper Assam. This time, former Union minister Paban Singh Ghatowar of the Congress, a four-time MP from the constituency, faced a humiliating defeat at the hands of a young BJP candidate from the tea tribes, Rameshwar Teli. Teli defeated Ghatowar by a mammoth margin of over 1.85 lakh votes.

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Abdullahs All At Sea

Omar and Farooq Abdullah are scrambling to regain lost ground ahead of the Assembly election, says Riyaz Wani

Reversal of fortunes Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and his father Farooq are at a loss to explain the debacle in the Lok Sabha polls, Photo: Sharad Saxena

Soon after the National Conference (NC) drew a blank in the 2014 General Election, Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah took the familiar recourse to Twitter to express his disappointment. This time he quoted Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair… words that I identify with closely.”

A chastened Omar also urged the people of the state to write directly to him on his personal email account. “I would like to hear from you as to the reasons for the enormous setback (the) NC has faced in these elections,” Omar wrote.

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Left Far Behind

After facing a historic rout in the just-concluded General Election, the future of the Indian Left looks uncertain. Jeemon Jacob reports

16lok_sabha2From 24 MPs in 2010 to twelve in 2014; as the Left Front faces a wipeout across the country, their tally in the 16th Lok Sabha will haunt the communists for some time to come. To add to their humiliation, the two patriarchs of the Left in India — the cpi with one MP and the cpm with eight MPs — face the risk of losing their national party status. Never in the history of independent India has the Left faced such a rout.

From being the first Opposition in Parliament after Independence, to being catapulted to the helm of power at the Centre in 1996, only to abdicate the mandate, the Left has played a pivotal role in shaping the country’s political discourse. It was the party’s decision to sit in the gallery instead of taking the responsibility to form the government in 1996 — a moment described by party elder Jyoti Basu as the “historical blunder” — that paved the way for its slow and painful death.

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 ‘The Very Assumption That Our Electoral Debut Has Been A Failure Needs To Be Questioned’

Buoyed by the stunning debut in last December’s Delhi Assembly polls, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) contested from 434 seats in the General Election. The party fielded a diverse cast of candidates — journalists, activists, businessmen and academics — but managed to win only four seats. After failing to win a single seat on its ‘home turf’ of Delhi, most people are already writing AAP off. But the party, which always manages to make headlines, did challenge the conventional way political parties fight elections. However, with leader Arvind Kejriwal in jail for his refusal to pay the bail amount in a defamation case, the party finds itself in a difficult situation of having to introspect, rebuild and prepare for the future. In the charged atmosphere, Avalok Langer caught up with senior leader Yogendra Yadav at the Hari Nagar Police Station in New Delhi to talk about the party’s future.


Edited Excerpts from an Interview

Do you think that AAP’s success in Delhi gave you a false sense of confidence, which led to the party opting to fight from 434 seats in the Lok Sabha election? Looking back, would it have been better to focus on fewer seats in select areas?
The very assumption that our electoral debut has been a failure needs to be questioned. If you look at India’s political history, electoral debuts have been exactly like this. If you look at the bjp in 1984, they got two seats. When the bsp first contested, they got three seats and about 2 percent of the vote share. We got four seats and 2 percent of the vote share. Successful electoral debuts are always like this. You do not get too many seats. You register your presence in the country, you acquire a decent vote share, you have local leadership, you have volunteers across the country and this is exactly what we have gained from this election. So, unlike others, I don’t feel it has been a disastrous debut. I feel it has been a successful debut.
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 Polls Herald The Rise Of Aspirational India

The stunning verdict shows tentative hints of a breach in the handout State

election_cardThe charismatic Narendra Modi is the new prime minister. The bjp tally of 282 seats makes this the first majority government since 1984 (when the Congress under a very young Rajiv Gandhi, riding the sympathy wave after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, won 415 seats). The Congress lost 162 seats from the 2009 General Election, while the bjp gained 166. The bjp came close to winning almost double the seats just in Uttar Pradesh (71) of the total national tally of the Congress (44). Modi’s journey from the humble origins of a backwardcaste chaiwallah to the prime ministership of over a billion people is no less stirring than Barack Obama’s story, but with rather more substantial executive experience already behind him.

The voters repudiated the decadelong Congress record of governmental drift, policy paralysis, maha-scams, stalled economic prospects and worsening human development indicators. Modi won by convincing voters that India deserves and can do better — remember the hope and excitement of “Yes we can”? — with decisive political leadership and firm policy direction.

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 China Finds A Kindred Spirit

In Beijing, PM Modi is being welcomed as a ruler who shares Chinese values

narendra_modiModi-Chini bhai bhai. This could well describe the almost breathless, even somewhat hysterical, embrace of prime minister-elect Narendra Modi by the Chinese leadership after his landslide win. In Beijing, where policy has to have a tidy ideological context, Modi is being welcomed as a tough administrator who shares Chinese values.

The Chinese position was articulated on 19 May by a policy expert in Global Times, a nationalistic newspaper owned by the communist party mouthpiece People’s Daily. The hardline Times usually reflects the thinking in policy circles. “As for western critics (of Modi’s record in handling the 2002 riots and his supposed authoritarian style of leadership), their attack on Modi is out of ideological concerns, because Modi’s governance style and philosophy are very close to Chinese practices,” the article says.

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