India decides to back centre

NEW DELHI: Dr Manmohan Singh is almost certain to be the Prime Minister for the second term as Indian National Congress-led UPA has emerged as the largest front in the 15th Lok Sabha elections. The INC has also emerged as the largest single party. In the 14th Loksabha, it had 145 seats, only seven seats more than the Bharatiya Janata Party.

As the INC/UPA increased its tally much beyond the mark projected by exit polls, a large number of INC supporters began converging at 10 Janpath, the residence of Congress President Sonia Gandhi from early morning and broke into celebration. The UPA victory came as a surprise particularly for the left and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. The Congress and its allies scored major victories in the left-dominated West Bengal and Kerala, the traditional bastions of the communist parties. The Congress’s decision to go alone also proved to be beneficial at least in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, where it won unexpected number of seats.

“The people’s verdict is in favour of the Congress, which avoids extremism. People have voted for development,” said Dipankar Gupta, sociologist, JNU. The BJP, which expected to cash in on the perceived anti-incumbency feeling, job loss and the threat of terrorism has gone below the 2004 tally of 138 seats.

“The Aam Admi slogan clicked well with the targeted groups. The results have shown the possibility of revival of the Congress,” said psephologist Sanjay Kumar. Political analysts believe that the BJP’s negative campaign against the INC government, the issue of Ram Sethu, national security and terrorism failed to appeal to the larger masses. “If the BJP wants to emerge as viable alternative to the INC it should abandon banking on the agenda of Hindutva,” Kumar added. Political analysts believe that the BJP’s terming of Prime Minister Singh as “a weak Prime Minister subservient to Sonia Gandhi” boomeranged on the saffron party.

The INC’s major gains in Uttar Pradesh have dashed the hope of BSP Chief Mayawati who was hoping to become the Prime Minister. On the other hand, the BJP which expected TDP and AIADMK like non-UPA allies to fare good in large states, such as Andhra Prades and Tamil Nadu didn’t materialise. DMK, which is a UPA ally in Tamil Nadu, has done unexpectedly well in the state. JD (U) and its NDA allies have been able to bag almost three fourths of seats in Bihar. RJD which had won 21 seats in last parliamentary polls won less than five seats.

Mamata Banerjee-led All India Trinamool Congress, which barely won two seats in West Bengal in 2004, has been able to increase its tally. The left that had won 60 seats in 2004 faced a huge defeat for the first time in three decades, as their tally has gone down by more than half this time. In Kerala, where the left had won 19 of the 20 seats in 2004, only won four seats.

As far as the left parties are concerned, analysts believe that anti-incumbency, policies of land acquisition in urban areas and infighting were the main factors that led to the withering away of their strength in states like West Bengal and Kerala.


Alliance Wins Leads

Congress+Allies 252 9

BJP+Allies 154 3

Third Front 77 3

Fourth Front 26 1

Others 18 0