Assembly Elections 2009
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It could be a hat trick for the Congress as it is poised to retain all the three states of Maharashtra, Toms Shoes Outlet Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh.
While it has swept the other two, Haryana seems to be a close call. Ironically, this was a state the Congress saw as a walkover and even called the election six months early to cash in on the Lok Sabha goodwill.
Numerically, the party will not gain much as the tally of Congress ruled states will still be 11; however, politically the mileage is immense. The dominant message is that the Congress is still riding the winning Lok Sabha wave. Despite drought, despite price hike, and despite 26/11, the Congress still managed to Toms Shoes Outlet retain the state for a third time. Pro incumbency, a trend that began with the assembly elections last year and carried on during the general elections, now seems to be a phrase that is here to stay. Fortunately for the Congress, it is in the right place to reap the benefits.
But did the Congress win the elections or did the Opposition just hand it to them on a platter? Except for INLD’s surprising revival in Haryana, almost all the other opposition parties failed to mount a credible attack on the Congress. The BJP, rudderless at the national level, transmitted its chaos to its state unit, leaving the campaign at the mercy of Gopinath Munde and Nitin Gadkari. Both of them are able Number Two men, neither has the capacity to take on the mantle of leadership just yet. In Haryana, the situation was much wor Toms Shoes Outlet se. An ego tussle between two top BJP leaders with one supporting INLD and the other Kuldeep Bishnoi’s little outfit ensured that no credible coalition could be cobbled together. In fact Toms Shoes Outlet , so low is the BJP’s stock that the INLD leadership claimed that it did well this time round because it was not handicapped by a BJP alliance as it was during the Lok Sabha polls.
Contrary to the BJP, the Congress is fast cementing its leadership credentials. Unlike the general elections, the Rahul Sonia duo were not active campaigners. In fact due to bad weather, they did not even make it to Arunachal. No matter. Yet, there was leadership. Despite pressure from the state leaders, and some of the general secretaries too including her son to go it alone, the Congress President kept the alliance with the NCP on. Realising that the Congress was on a winning wicket, she, however, kept the decision pending till the last minute so that the NCP would be pressurised into settling for a lesser number of seats. Given the fact that the NCP contested only 112 of the 288 seats, its win of over 60 shows an excellent strike record, as Sharad Pawar himself pointed out. True the Congress needs the NCP to form the government, but a 60+ is still nowhere near its score of 71 (Last time, the NCP scored two more than the Congress party’s 69). As both the Congress and the NCP think they have one up over the other, there will be a hard bargain for the portfolios.
Unlike her husband, or even her mother in law, Sonia is also secure enough to allow her chief ministers some growth potential. Despite Vilasrao Deshmukh’s claims to the throne, there seems little indication that she will disturb the incumbent Ashok Chavan. Just as she did when she appointed a relatively junior Bhupinder Hooda on the Haryana CM’s chair five years ago, she will continue the grooming of Ashok Chavan. The Congress is still wary of building regional chieftains but under Sonia, it is creating a charismatic, second rung leadership that is confined to the state level. While the late YSR, Sheila Dikshit, Hooda, Gogoi even perhaps Amarinder Singh can all win their states for a second or even third time, not one has an appeal beyond their state borders and so will never be a threat to 10 Janpath. Sonia is smart enough to realise that she needs to groom a leadership at the state level that will bring in the votes so that the Congress need not depend upon regional parties. But she ensures that none of these leaders ever extend their brief, or the boundaries of ambition.
That then is the dominant message of the election: the Congress has not just retained three states, it has proved that it can provide a credible leadership, both at the Central and state level. In comparision, the BJP really has very little to offer. It is hoping for a reprieve in Jharkhand, a state that is slated to go to the polls in December. Unlike Haryana, or even Maharashtra, the BJP has a real chance of grabbing power in that tiny north Indian state. Losing the Jharkhand polls would damage party morale even more than this current loss. It has over a month to get its act together. If it mucks up Jharkhand as well, then the entire party might as well pack its bags along with Rajnath and Advani, and troop back to the shakhas.