Poll-Balance Sheet

The end result of the much awaited Assembly Polls in four States has now led to several interesting post-poll analysis with even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh feeling upbeat enough to claim that the poll outcome was a victory for the UPA Government at the Centre. The Left Front for instance, the driving force behind the Congress and its allies has done exceptionally well to return to power in Kerala while sweeping the Bengal landscape for a consecutive 7th term. In this sense, the UPA cannot do anything wrong at this juncture. However it would be of interest to analyze what gains can be counted for the Congress party in all this post-poll calculations. 

The only real gain for the Congress party remains the singular achievement of the Party President Sonia Gandhi whose thumping win at the Rae Bareli bye-election in Uttar Pradesh is only expected to take her standing within the party and the alliance up another notch higher. Knowing fully well that the State of Uttar Pradesh will remain the key to the Congress having any chance of returning to power at the Centre, the bigger question that remains is whether the party’s win at Rae Bareli, courtesy the Gandhi name, can be translated into major gains for the party in this politically crucial state during the next general elections. The Congress party will have realized by now that micro wins such as in Rae Bareli and Amethi will not translate into real political gains unless it is able to corner more seats in this all important state of Uttar Pradesh. It is therefore obvious that that the Congress power-base has to go beyond Rae Bareli and across the Hindi-belt. 

One of the other gains that cannot be denied to the Congress is the manner in which the Tarun Gogoi government has been able to beat the anti-incumbency factor to retain power in Assam. It is however obvious that the next government is going to be entirely different from the single party majority government that Gogoi headed. For once, it is going to be a coalition government with the obvious pulls and pressure from the allies. It will be interesting to see how the Congress in Assam handles its maiden exercise in running a coalition government. 

While there is the downside to coalition politics, one positive that should be welcomed is the emergence of a new power sharing mantra as opposed to a concentration of power within a dominant group. With seven independent legislators and the 12 from the Bodo Progressive People’s Front (BPPF) giving support to it, the Congress will have to accommodate the interests of its newfound political allies. This is good for the people as much as it is encouraging for democracy to thrive and grow in. With coalitions come pluralism and other power-sharing arrangements. This may finally lead to a shift of political interest in Assam from the centre to the periphery as represented by hitherto marginalized groups such as the BPPF. This is a big positive for Assam politics.

With West Bengal and Kerala going to the Left parties and the expected win for the DMK and the Congress in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry respectively, not much actually has changed in the political landscape of the country although it has to be said that the emergence of a coalition government in Assam should be seen as significant. Other than that, the results have only reinstated balance of power among the parties and formations in their respective bastions of power.