BJP’S 70% VS CONGRESS’ 11%

Even if we go by the Congress’ claim that it won three states, Punjab, Goa and Manipur, in the recently concluded assembly polls, it still adds nothing significant to the spread of its influence – geographically as well as in terms of the human headcount. The Congress party has effectively lost the electoral space to act as a national alternative to the BJP.

Assembly elections were held in five states, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur these results of which were announced on March 11. The BJP had swept Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand while its alliance with the SAD had seen a crushing defeat in Punjab where it was in the ruling coalition since 2007. The Congress had emerged as the largest party in Goa and Manipur but the BJP stitched the numbers fast to form coalition governments in both of these states.

The BJP and its allies were already ruling over 60% of India’s geographical area with 43% of its population before the March 11 verdict, and the sweep this time has taken it to around 70% of the landmass and 58% of the population.

With Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur in BJP’s stable, the BJP and its allies are now the ruling party/coalition in 17 Indian states while the Congress, that has ruled India for almost 55 years in its 70 years of independent, sovereign history, has shrunk to just six states with Karnataka and Punjab as the only electorally significant states in its fold. The party has ruling presence in another big state – in Bihar – but it is the junior-most alliance partner in the ruling coalition there.

In terms of geographical spread, the Congress has shrunk to just 13% of Indian territory with only 11% of the country’s population residing in areas ruled by it. Even if, for a moment, we consider that the BJP fails to prove majority in Goa and Manipur and the Congress finally forms the governments, it cannot help the Congress much, apart from giving consolation, as Goa and Manipur represent only 0.8% of India’s area and 0.34% of its population.

The BJP along with its allies, is now in all corners of the country with its 17 state governments, in north India, in central India, in south India, in West India, in east India and in north-east India, the footprint the Congress enjoyed earlier while the Congress has reduced to only few pockets.

India has 29 states and seven Union territories. Polls are held in these 29 states and two of the Union Territories, i.e., Delhi and Puducherry. The states where the BJP and its allies have their governments now are – Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh (NDA partner TDP), Jammu & Kashmir (NDA partner PDP), Nagaland (NDA partner NPF) and Sikkim (NDA partner SDF). The party is number two in Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. The BJP is also number 2 in Bihar if we see it as the grand alliance of JDU, RJD and Congress Vs the BJP.

Other big states barring Karnataka and Punjab, are all with the regional parties who have chosen not to ally with the Congress – Tamil Nadu (AIADMK), Telangana (TRS), West Bengal (AITC), Odisha (BJD) and Kerala (Left Front).

The Congress has ruling presence in only two electorally significant states, Karnataka and Punjab. But in Karnataka where elections are due early next year, its prospects don’t look good and there are very real chances that the huge anti-incumbency against the Congress led government will allow the BJP to easily win the state. The other parties in the Congress fold are all smaller states, i.e., Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Puducherry.

©SantoshChaubey

COMPLACENCY COSTS CONGRESS TWO MORE STATES

Now even the Supreme Court’s seal is on it that the Congress got complacent and took matters lightly in Goa and Manipur, the two states where it had emerged as the largest party but missed the bus to stake claims. The obvious consequence to it is that a BJP chief minister has taken oath in Goa and the party’s government will be formed in Manipur with the swearing-in scheduled for tomorrow.

While hearing a Congress petition against the oath-taking ceremony of Manohar Parrikar in Goa, a special Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar took the Congress to task for reacting late and refused to stay Parrikar’s swearing-in. The top court observed that a ‘simple floor test’ can take care of issues raised in the petition. As directed by the Supreme Court, Manohar Parrikar led BJP government will have to prove its majority in the House on March 16.

On the counting day, after the BJP’s massive victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and impressive show in Uttarakhand, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor had some words of advice for the BJP leadership. He tweeted that the BJP was in power in two of the five states where elections were held and it lost both and therefore the party ‘shouldn’t be too complacent for 2019’ when the next parliamentary polls will be held.

But it seems, the Congress leadership got complacent with the poll results as it failed to move before the BJP in staking claims to form governments even if Amit Shah, the BJP president, had announced after the results came in that the BJP was going to form government in four states, i.e., Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.

GOA

Even though Digvijay Singh, Goa in-charge of the Congress party, has been camping in Goa, the party failed to make its move and arrange numbers to stake claim. While the Congress was still contemplating its moves, the BJP met Goa Governor Mridula Sinha with a list 21 MLAs to stake its claim to form the government in the state with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar as its chief minister. Now he is back as CM and the BJP is claiming to have support of 23 MLAs. This is a point where the Congress clearly failed, a fact highlighted by the Supreme Court, which said the Congress didn’t approach the Governor or the Supreme Court with its list and affidavits of the supporting MLAs.

Parrikar had resigned from the CM position in November 2014 to join Narendra Modi’s union cabinet. This will be his fourth term as Goa’s chief minister. His first two terms were from 2000 to 2002 and from 2002 to 2005.

The BJP, the incumbents in the state, won 13 assembly seats this time, four less than Congress’ 17. To prove majority in the 40-member Goa House, support of 21 members was needed. Congress needed four MLAs to scale the gap while the BJP needed eight. And the BJP arranged its eight before the Congress could garner support of four MLAs.

The BJP claims to have support of three MLAs each of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Goa Forward Party (GFP), two independents and lone NCP MLA. Then there are reports that some Congress MLAs are ready to defect to join the BJP. That the Congress has resigned to its fate becomes clear from its Goa in-charge Digvijay Singh’s reaction, who was earlier claiming to form the government, was quoted saying that the Congress was ready to sit in Opposition if the BJP had the numbers. Today, in an interview with a channel, senior Congress leader Kamal Nath accepted that the Congress was slow to act in Goa and Manipur and better chalked-out plans were needed.

The Congress’ hara-kiri is evident from the fact that some of the newly elected Congress MLAs have blamed the senior Congress leaders of ‘indecisiveness’ even if it had the mandate to stake claim first, an unacceptable delay that gave the BJP enough time to play its cards. Congress Valopi MLA Vishwajit Rane, who is son of the former CM Pratapsingh Rane, felt so letdown that he left the party saying he was ‘disillusioned’ with the party after its ‘shameful handling of the mandate’.

MANIPUR

Manipur is the second state that is a missed opportunity for the Congress. Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla has invited the BJP leader N Biren Singh to form the government and his oath-taking ceremony is scheduled for tomorrow.

The Congress has been in power in the state since 2002 and even this time it emerged as the largest party winning 28 seats in the 60-member house. But the BJP’s performance is stunning here. The party that had not been able to open its account in the last polls in 2012, has emerged as the second largest party in this polls, winning 21 seats. But what is more remarkable is the fact that its vote share at 36.3% is more than Congress’ 35.1%, something that gives it the largest representation in the state. From 2.12% in 2012 to 36.3% in 2017, this is huge.

And thanks to the indecisiveness shown by the Congress here as well, the swift moves made by the BJP gave it the necessary edge and Imphal is going to have a BJP government next.

Both the BJP and the Congress are making claims and counterclaims. But certainly, the BJP has outsmarted the Congress in making first moves, be it parading the supporting MLAs before the Governor or holding joint presser with the National People’s Party (NPP). The Congress also claimed to have the NPP support but it was refuted by NPP chief Conrad Sangma.

In the 60-member strong Manipur legislative assembly, a simple house majority needs support of 31 MLAs. In a quick move, on March 12, the BJP approached the Governor with a delegation of MLAs including four NPP MLAs, lone MLA of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), lone TMC MLA and a Congress MLA who had defected. The BJP delegation also handed over a letter of support from the Naga People’s Front (NPF), an NDA alliance partner.

After it, Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, like waking from a slumber, rushed to the Governor House to stake claim. He showed a letter on a plain paper with names of four NPP legislators in Congress’ support which was later junked by the NPP. Also, it is believed that the Governor asked Ibobi Singh to parade the four NPP MLAs to validate his claims. Then there are reports that around a dozen Congress MLAs are ready to defect to the BJP fold.

Sources say the Governor wanted to meet the four NPF MLAs personally before taking any decision. Today, NPF MLAs met the Governor and reiterated their party’s support for the BJP. That validated the count of 32 MLAs in BJP’s support. After it, the Governor invited the BJP to form the government.

DESPERATE LAST DITCH EFFORTS

In its last ditch effort, the Congress had moved to the Supreme Court challenging the invitation to Manohar Parrikar to form the government. But if we go by the Constitution’s interpretation of experts, inviting the largest party is more of a convention and the Governor is not bound to follow it if another political formation convinces him of having the required numbers.

It is left to the Governor’s discretion and wisdom to ensure that a stable government is formed, be it by the single largest party or a coalition of other parties, a fact reiterated by the Supreme Court during today’s hearing. The top court said that though it has become a Constitutional convention to invite the single largest party, the preference goes to them who show stable numbers.

Rapidly changing political developments have proved Shashi Tharoor wrong. It is not the BJP, but the Congress that has lost two states, i.e., Manipur and Uttarakhand. And unlike the BJP which lost one in Punjab, to gain four states in its fold, it could gain just one, i.e., Punjab. With these developments, the BJP and its allies now have governments in 17 states while the Congress and its allies have shrunk to just seven states.

©SantoshChaubey

COMPLACENCY LIKELY TO COST CONGRESS TWO MORE STATES

On the counting day, after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) massive victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and impressive show in Uttarakhand, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor had words of advice for the BJP leadership. He tweeted that the BJP was in power in two of the five states where elections were held and it lost both and therefore the party ‘shouldn’t be too complacent for 2019’ when the next parliamentary polls will be held.

But it seems, the Congress leadership got complacent with the poll results as it failed to move before the BJP in staking claims to form governments even if Amit Shah, the BJP president, had announced on the counting day that the BJP was going to form government in four states, i.e., Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.

GOA

Even though Digvijay Singh, Goa in-charge of the Congress party, has been camping in Goa, the party failed to make its move and arrange numbers to stake claim.

While the Congress was still contemplating its moves, the BJP met Goa Governor Mridula Sinha with a list 21 MLAs to stake its claim to form the government in the state. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has resigned from the union cabinet. The Goa Governor has invited him to take oath tomorrow and prove majority in the Goa assembly in 15 days. He had resigned from the CM position in November 2014 to join Narendra Modi’s union cabinet. This will be his fourth term as Goa’s chief minister. His first two terms were from 2000 to 2002 and from 2002 to 2005.

The BJP, the incumbents in the state, won 13 assembly seats this time, four less than Congress’ 17. To prove majority in the 40-member Goa House, support of 21 members is needed. Congress needed four MLAs to scale the gap while the BJP needed eight. And the BJP arranged its eight before the Congress could garner support of four MLAs.

The BJP claims to have support of three MLAs each of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Goa Forward Party (GFP), two independents and lone NCP MLA. Then there are reports that some Congress MLAs are ready to defect to join the BJP. That the Congress has resigned to its fate becomes clear from the development where its Goa in-charge Digvijay Singh, who was claiming to form the government, was quoted saying that the Congress was ready to sit in Opposition if the BJP had the numbers.

The Congress’ hara-kiri here is evident from the fact that some of the newly elected Congress MLAs have the blamed the senior Congress leaders of ‘indecisiveness’ even if it had the mandate to stake the claim first, an unacceptable delay that gave the BJP enough time to play its cards. Congress Valopi MLA Vishwajit Rane, who is son of former CM Pratapsingh Rane, is feeling so disgusted that he had decided to leave the party saying he is ‘disillusioned’ with the party after its shameful handling of the mandate.

In its last ditch effort, the Congress has moved to the Supreme Court challenging the invitation to Manohar Parrikar to form the government and the Supreme Court has agreed for an emergency hearing tomorrow before Parrikar’s oath-taking ceremony at 5 PM. But the Constitution is silent on whether the Governor can call the second largest party or not in case of a hung assembly scenario and it is left of his discretion and wisdom to ensure that a stable government is formed, be it by the single largest party or a coalition of other parties.

MANIPUR

Manipur is the second state that is likely to slip from the Congress fold. The BJP legislature party has elected N Biren Singh as its leader and the party, along with its allies, are soon going to meet Najma Heptulla, the Manipur Governor, to stake claim to form the government.

The Congress has been in power in the state since 2002 and even this time it has emerged as the largest party winning 28 seats in the 60-member house. But the BJP’s performance is stunning here. The party that had not been able to open its account in the last polls in 2012, has emerged as the second largest party in this polls, winning 21 seats. But what is more remarkable is the fact that its vote share at 36.3% is more than Congress’ 35.1%, something that gives it the largest representation in the state. From 2.12% in 2012 to 36.3% in 2017, this is huge.

And thanks to the indecisiveness shown by the Congress here as well, the swift moves made by the BJP have created very real chances where Imphal could have a BJP government next.

Both the BJP and the Congress are making claims and counterclaims. But certainly, the BJP has outsmarted the Congress in making first moves, be it parading the supporting MLAs before the Governor or holding joint presser with the National People’s Party (NPP). Both, the BJP and the Congress, claim support of four NPP MLAs but Conrad Sangma, the NPP chief, has denied the Congress claims.

In the 60-member strong Manipur legislative assembly, a simple house majority needs support of 31 MLAs.

After the BJP met the Governor and paraded 32 MLAs yesterday, including four each of the Naga People’s Front (NPF) and the NPP, lone MLA of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), lone TMC MLA and a Congress MLA who defected, Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, like waking up from a slumber, rushed to the Governor House to stake claim. He showed a letter with names of four NPP legislators in Congress’ support. The BJP has dismissed the letter as it was not on official letterhead. The letter claim was later debunked by the NPP. Also, the BJP had held a joint press conference with the NPP before meeting the Governor and the NPP had announced that it would go with the anti-Congress grouping in the Manipur assembly.

To make matters worse for the Congress, it is believed that the Governor has asked Ibobi Singh to parade the four NPP MLAs before to validate his claims, something that looks an improbable task now after the BJP has firmed up numbers in its favour. Then there are reports that around a dozen Congress MLAs are ready to defect to the BJP fold.

Whether the Congress will move to the Supreme Court in the Manipur case depends on what respite it gets from the Supreme Court tomorrow with its Goa petition. If the Supreme Court puts a stay on Parrikar’s oath-taking ceremony, Manipur will also see a prolonged uncertainty till the apex court finally comes with a definitive interpretation. But if we go by the interpretation of the experts, inviting the largest party is more of a convention and the Governor is not bound to follow it if another political formation convinces him of having the required numbers.

©SantoshChaubey

WHY CONGRESS’ CLAIM OF VICTORY IN THREE STATES IS A POOR ATTEMPT TO HIDE BEHIND STATS

The Congress may have found a way to draw some solace from the assembly election verdicts announced yesterday which were like a massive tsunami of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s electoral victory. After yet another round of electoral humiliation, the grand old party of India is trying to put up a brave face by highlighting the fact that it won three of the five states where polls were held. The party has scored an impressive victory in Punjab and has emerged as the largest party in Goa and Manipur.

It says while it lost one state in Uttarakhand, it won one in Punjab, has dethroned the BJP in Goa and is looking to retain Manipur after it emerged as the largest party by winning 26 of the 60 assembly seats on offer. But the BJP has outdone the Congress even here, in staking claims to form the governments in Goa and Manipur.

When we go beyond these mere claims to look for elements to substantiate them, we found them as empty claims which are nothing lame attempts to hide behind data manipulation, both in terms of numbers of states that the party claims to win and the geographical extent and population under its rule in the country.

THE PARTY MAY END UP WITH JUST ONE STATE

The Congress party has won a clear and absolute majority in Punjab with 77 seats in the 117-member strong Punjab assembly and 38.5% vote share and is going to form the government there under Captain Amarinder Singh.

But that is not the case with Goa and Manipur where Amit Shah, the BJP president, had claimed yeaterday that his party would form the government. Though the Congress has emerged as the largest party in both states, it is still short of majority with hung verdicts in both states. And the developments so far say that both of these states may actually end up with the BJP.

GOA

While the Congress is still contemplating its moves, the BJP has met the Goa Governor to stake its claim to form the government in the state. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will resign from the union cabinet to become Goa’s chief minister again. He had resigned from the position in November 2014 to join Narendra Modi’s union cabinet.

The BJP, the incumbents in the state, have won 13 assembly seats this time, four less than Congress’ 17. To prove majority in the 40-member Goa House, support of 21 members are needed. Congress needs four MLAs to scale the gap while the BJP needs eight. And it seems the BJP has arranged its eight before the Congress could garner support of four MLAs.

The BJP claims to have support of 22 MLAs including three MLAs each of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and three independents. That the Congress has resigned to its fate becomes clear from the development where its Goa in-charge Digvijay Singh, who was claiming to form the government yesterday, was quoted saying today that the Congress was ready to sit in Opposition if the BJP had the numbers.

MANIPUR

Himanta Biswa Sarma, senior BJP leader and Assam minister just tweeted to inform us that the BJP is going to stake claim to form the government.

@himantabiswa
Meeting her Excellency Guv of #Manipur Smt Najma Heptullah ji to stake claim to form a @BJP4India led Govt in state. #MissionAccomplished

In the 60-member strong Manipur legislative assembly, the ruling Congress party has won 28 seats while the BJP is trailing at the second position with 21 seats. A simple house majority needs support of 31 MLAs.

Smaller parties like the Naga People’s Front (NPF) has won four seats, National People’s Party (NPP) has won another four seats and Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) has won one seat. All these are NDA constituents and have extended their support to the BJP in Manipur. The BJP is also claiming support of the lone independent MLA. That takes the tally of the BJP and its allies to 31, crossing the halfway majority mark in the Manipur assembly. Then there are reports that the lone All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) MLA is also supporting the BJP alliance and a Congress MLA has defected to the BJP camp.

So, in effect, based on the developments so far, the Congress has won just one states, i.e., Punjab, while losing two, i.e., Manipur and Uttarakhand.

SHRINKING AREA OF INFLUENCE

And even if we go by the Congress’ claim that it won three states, it will still add nothing significant to the spread of its influence – geographically as well as in terms of the human headcount. The Congress party has effectively lost the electoral space to act as a national alternative to the BJP.

The BJP and its allies were already ruling over 60% of India’s geographical area with 43% of its population before yesterday’s verdict and the sweep has taken it to around 70% of the landmass and 58% of the population. Even if we don’t count Goa and Manipur in BJP’s stable as of now, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand make BJP the ruling party of 15 Indian states while the Congress, that has ruled India for almost 55 years in its 70 years of independent, sovereign history, has shrunk to just five states with Karnataka as the only big state in its fold. The party has limited presence in another two states. The Congress has an alliance government in Puducherry while it is the junior-most alliance partner in Bihar’s ruling coalition.

In terms of the geographical spread, the Congress has shrunk to just 13% of Indian territory which houses the country’s 11% population. The BJP is now in all corners of the country, in north India, in central India, in south India, in West India, in east India and in north-east India, the footprint the Congress enjoyed earlier while the Congress has reduced to only few pockets.

If, in spite of all these bitter ground realities, the Congress leaders and spokespersons are still not ready to see the writing on the wall, no one can help in its revival to reclaim the past glory.

©SantoshChaubey

VERDICT 2017: ELECTORAL LANDSCAPE OF INDIA IS GOING TO BE BJP VS COALITIONS

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

Counting day trends of the five state assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur are now in. The way the electoral wind has blown has become clear in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand while it is still neck to neck contest in Goa and Manipur. As per the trends available so far, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), along with its allies, has won 325 seats in the 403-member Uttar Pradesh assembly, an overwhelming majority in the state’s electoral history, ending the party’s 15 year old political exile in the state. Home Minister Rajnath Singh was the BJP’s last chief minister in Uttar Pradesh in 2002. The party has repeated its emphatic show in Uttarakhand, winning 56 of the 70 assembly seats on offer. The Congress has taken Punjab with 76 seats in the 117-member Punjab assembly.

The verdict 2017 is going to write the electoral landscape of India for the next parliamentary polls in 2019, settling down the most important question of the representational camps in the state level and national politics.

And the message is loud clear.

It is going to be the coalitions Vs the BJP in the upcoming assembly polls that may finally culminate in a grand alliance taking on the ruling party in the Centre in the 2019 general elections. In 2018, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura are going to polls while ten states including Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan have their state polls slated for 2019.

It is to be seen whether these coalitions will learn from the lessons of the experiments done in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. In spite of all the big projections, the BJP had to bite the dust in the 2015 Bihar assembly polls as it was a clear two way fight between the BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the grand political alliance of the Janata Dal United (JDU), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress party that ensured that the anti-BJP votes did not split.

That could not happen in Uttar Pradesh.

While the BJP targeted non-Yadav OBC and non-Jatav Dalit votes, in addition to its traditional vote bank of upper castes and middle class, the triangular contest between the Samajwadi Party (SP)-Congress coalition, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the BJP led NDA saw the anti-BJP votes split between the SP-Congress coalition and the BSP. At the same time, the BJP was able to consolidate its pie riding high on the factors like the Modi wave and polarisation along religious and community lines.

In Bihar, two arch rivals, the JDU and the RJD, could bury their past differences to prevent the BJP juggernaut. Uttar Pradesh would have been a different story had it been for a grand alliance of parties say the SP-BSP-Congress and even Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD). Crisis of political survival may push these parties to come under one umbrella in future as we saw in the overtures of Akhilesh Yadav who offered to go along with the BSP to prevent the BJP’s sail in UP after the exit polls predicted a BJP victory or a hung assembly with the BJP as the largest party in the UP assembly.

The Congress party has effectively lost the electoral space to act as a national alternative to the BJP. The BJP and its allies were already ruling over 60% of India’s geographical area with 43% of its population before today’s verdict and the today’s sweep has taken it to around 70% of the land and 58% of the population. Even if we don’t count Goa and Manipur in BJP’s stable along with today’s results, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand make BJP the ruling party of 14 Indian states while the Congress, that has ruled India for almost 55 years in its 70 years of independent, sovereign history, has shrunk to just five states with Karnataka as the only big state in its fold. The Congress has an alliance government in Puducherry while it is the junior-most alliance partner in Bihar’s ruling coalition. And we should not forget that the states of Goa and Manipur are wide open till majority governments are formed there. When it comes to that, the state may well end up with the BJP.

Though the huge anti-incumbency against the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP combine has given Congress an emphatic victory in Punjab, the party has seen a humiliating loss in Uttarakhand where even its chief minister Harish Rawat could not save his assembly constituencies. To make Congress’ plight more visible, we have examples of Goa and Manipur. Congress claimed to win both of these states but the trends so far belie such claims. The north-eastern state of Manipur has been a traditional stronghold of the Congress party while it was expecting the anti-BJP incumbency to deliver Goa for it.

Manipur and Goa are small states, with 60 and 40 assembly seats respectively and the trends available so far say that it is a neck to neck fight between the BJP and the Congress in both of these states and the smaller parties and the independents will play the kingmaker in deciding who is going to form the government next. If the BJP has been able to form its government in Manipur, it will give the ruling party of India its second direct opening in the north-eastern region of India after Assam win in 2016.

If it happens so, the BJP will have presence in four of the eight north-eastern states, i.e., Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. After a series of dramatic upheavals, the BJP has its government in Arunachal Pradesh while Nagaland’s ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) is its alliance partner. So another BJP advance in the region at the cost of the Congress will limit the Congress’ influence like the one of regional parties while will add one more, and necessary, feather in the BJP’s drive to become a true pan-India political party.

This BJP spread is a crisis moment for the Congress, the SP, the BSP and many other state and regional parties and it will write the way further for the electoral politics in India. The crisis will eventually force them to come together to take on the BJP might. The future electoral landscape of India is thus expected to be dotted by coalitions and more coalitions against the BJP, in the upcoming assembly polls and in the mega electoral show in 2019 when we will chose our next set of parliamentarians. And Congress will have no choice but to become part of such coalitions, accepting junior roles, like it did in Bihar, and like it has done in Uttar Pradesh.

©SantoshChaubey

TOMORROW WILL WRITE THE ELECTORAL LANDSCAPE OF INDIA FOR 2019

So, the day has finally arrived. In few hours, the Election Commission will begin the exercise that will write the electoral landscape of India for the next parliamentary polls in 2019. The most important question that it will settle down will be about representation in the national politics.

The counting of votes for the assembly polls conducted in five states, i.e., Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa, would be done tomorrow and by 12 PM, the trends will become more or less clear.

Anti-incumbency is expected to play the lead role in determining the poll outcome in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand, and even in Manipur.

Congress’ fall from grace, it seems, is yet to see its lowest point as evident by no visible anti-incumbency against the BJP government in Goa where Congress is the main political opposition. To make Congress’ plight more visible, we have before us Manipur, the North-Eastern state that may go to the BJP fold, giving the ruling party in Centre its first direct opening in the North-Easter region of India.

If it happens so, the BJP will have significant presence in three of the seven North-Eastern states, i.e., Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. That will restrict Congress’ influence like the regional parties while will add one more (and necessary) feather in the BJP’s drive to become a true pan-India political party.

And that will write the way further in the electoral politics in India. It will be dotted by coalitions and more coalitions against the BJP, in assembly polls that will lead us to the mega electoral show in 2019 when we will chose our next set of parliamentarians. And Congress will have no choice but to become part of such coalitions, accepting junior roles, like it did in Bihar, and like it has done in Uttar Pradesh.

©SantoshChaubey

DALIT-MUSLIM COMBINE: MAYAWATI’S SOCIAL ENGINEERING FOR 2017 UP POLLS

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has announced almost all candidates for the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls due next month. Keeping her promise, she has given tickets to 97 Muslim candidates, almost one-fourth of the total 401 candidates announced so far. UP state assembly has 403 seats.

In the 2007 assembly polls, the BSP gave tickets to 61 Muslim candidates – 15 percent of the total BSP candidates in the elections. In the 2012 assembly polls, the count rose to 85 seats – 21 percent of the total count. And now it is at 25 percent.

From 15 to 21 to 25 – this gradual increase in the Muslim candidates is a clever ploy and it can prove a winning element if it works as intended – because the timing looks opportune.

WINNING NUMBERS

Mayawati’s focus is on the Dalit-Muslim combine this time. Dalits and Muslims are 38.5 percent in UP’s population – more than enough to give any party absolute majority in the UP assembly.

The BSP had got 30 percent votes in the 2007 assembly polls and won 206 seats. In 2012, the SP got 224 votes with a vote share of 29 percent.

So, a combine 38.5 percent makes sense to go for. And going by the prolonged Samajwadi Party (SP) internal power struggle that may alienate Muslims, who have traditionally voted for the SP, the timing looks perfect.

According to a CSDS report, 17 percent Muslims voted for the BSP in 2007 polls which rose to 20 percent in 2012. On the other hand, the Muslim votes to the SP saw a considerable decline – from 45 percent in 2007 to 39 percent in 2012. That may come significantly down this time, especially when Mayawati has made it clear that it will not go for any pre or post poll alliance.

There are expectations that the ongoing SP feud may earn positive points for UP’s chief minister Akhilesh Yadav as he has tried to shape this power battle within his own family and party as a war being waged against corruption with an uncompromising attitude. But how far it can help Akhilesh only time will tell and time has already run out.

Add to it the Muzaffarnagar riots, its aftermath with the stories of a life like hell in the camps for the riots affected people and the Dadri lynching incidents have the potential to erode the credibility base of the SP among the Muslims like never before.

REDUCING CLOUT OF THE UPPER CASTE CANDIDATES

It’s natural corollary then that the number of the upper caste candidates has to come down.

And they indeed have come down. The party had given tickets to 139 upper caste candidates in the 2007 assembly polls which came down to 117 in 2012 and has further reduced to 111 this time. Though they are still the largest block of the BSP candidates, the trend from the 2007 high shows their reducing clout.

The 2012 polls saw greater jumps in the SP’s Brahmin and Rajput vote shares than the BSP – Brahmins from 10 to 19 percent and Rajputs from 20 to 26 percent, the CSDS analysis says. In fact, there was even a decline in the Yadav vote share – from 72 percent in 2007 to 66 percent in 2012. But it was compensated well with increase in more Kurmis/Koeris (17 to 35 percent), Jatavs (4 to 15 percent) and Balmikis (2 to 9 percent).

ADDRESSING THE DALIT VOTERS

Doing so will address the chances of Dalit voters slipping away from the BSP fold as happened in the 2012 assembly polls. According to the CSDS analysis, 86 percent Jatav voters voted for the BSP in 2007 which drastically came down to 62 percent in 2012. Even more telling was the reduction in the Balmiki vote share which came down by over 40 percent – from 71 percent in 2007 to 42 percent in 2012.

The major reason behind this then was ascribed to Mayawati’s increasing tilt to the upper caste voters. The alienating Dalit voters felt disillusioned probably.

Also, the upper caste bet did not play well for Mayawati in the 2012 assembly polls. Even if Mayawati had given tickets to 117 upper caste candidates in 2012, 22 less than 2007, they were still the largest block of the BSP candidates. But according to the CSDS analysis, there was only a small increase in the upper caste vote share of the party – Brahmins from 16 to 19 percent, Rajputs from 12 to 14 percent and the other upper castes from 15 to 17 percent.

Not at all anywhere near to compensating the huge loss the BSP got – of Jatav and Balmiki votes! Even the share of the other SCs in the BSP’s overall votes profile, too, came down by 13 percent – from 58 percent in 2007 to 45 percent in 2012.

Now if Mayawati goes full throttle behind this Dalit constituency and works to add more Muslims to her vote base, from the existing 20 percent, she will be having a winning combination then.

©SantoshChaubey

BSP CANDIDATES FROM 2007 TO 2017: OPTIMISM SOARS WITH MUSLIMS, PRIORITY ON UPPER CASTES DECLINES

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Out of 403, the BSP has announced its 401 candidates for the 2017 assembly polls and according to Mayawati, the upper caste candidates are still the largest block of the candidates with 111 tickets given to them. According to a party release, candidates for the two remaining seats will be announced once the Election Commission decides about their reservation status.

There are 106 OBC candidates in the list. Muslims form the third largest block with 97 tickets given while, as in the previous assembly polls, Dalits remain under the hundred zone with 88 candidates in the fray. The party had given tickets to 89 Dalits in 2007 polls while the figure stood at 88 in the 2012 polls.

In 2012 assembly polls, the BSP had given tickets to the 117 upper caste candidates, 113 to the OBCs candidates and 85 to the Muslims candidates.

In 2007 assembly polls, the party break-up for its candidates was 139 tickets to the upper caste candidates, 110 tickets to the OBCs and 61 tickets to the Muslim candidates.

The trend since 2007, when India’s most populous state got it first government to complete full five years in office in Mayawati’s BSP, shows the rising prominence of Muslims in the BSP caste calculations.

Some months ago Mayawati had announced that her party would field around 100 Muslim candidates this time. In fact, Muslims are the only block of candidates that have seen consistent rise in the BSP’s votebank arithmetic since the 2007 assembly polls.

The number of tickets given to the OBC and Dalit candidates have remain more or less static since 2007 as the numbers say but the upper caste candidates have seen the biggest decline in their numbers, from as high as 139 in 2007 to 113 now.

The trend shows the BSP’s rising optimism with the Muslim voters and the declining priority when it comes to the upper caste population segments. The Muslim candidates have seen a whopping rise of 60 per cent from 2007 to 2017 while the number of upper caste candidates has come down by 20 per cent in the same period.

©SantoshChaubey

UTTAR PRADESH: A BIRD’S EYE VIEW ON 2017 ASSEMBLY POLLS

2017 assembly polls have been announced and the model code of conduct has been put in place. The penultimate round has begun and the centre of attraction of this mammoth exercise is Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with maximum number of Lok Sabha (80), Rajya Sabha (31) and assembly seats (403), that makes it the nerve centre of Indian politics.

The state has three major political forces:

The Samajwadi Party (SP), the ruling party of the moment with its chief minister Akhilesh Yadav looking to retain the UP power corridors after completing his five years in the office. He is facing huge anti-incumbency and an acerbic family feud to control power in his party and looks pitted against senior leaders of the party including his father Mulayam Singh Yadav.

The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), the ruling party of the nation under prime minister Narendra Modi, has a mixed bag of credentials to go for in this election. While the party registered spectacular win in the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, winning 71 out of 80 seats, it failed to capitalize on that and has lost every bypoll in the state after the feat of 2014 LS polls. Also, it has no CM candidate to project like the other two major parties.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the party that was in power for a complete five years before Akhilesh took over. Mayawati’s BSP has been in power in UP many times – including having power sharing arrangements with the BJP. In fact, the 2007-2012 Mayawati government was the first government in UP to complete five years in the office.

The electoral contest this time is going to be triangular and will be centred on these three political parties.

There are some minor political forces but they will not leave any impact apart from increasing the number of parties and candidates, making the elections thus more colourful. We can keep the Indian National Congress in this league. In spite of the intense efforts by Rahul Gandhi, the party is almost dead in a state that it ruled for some 30 years.

So, who is going to win these polls?

©SantoshChaubey