The big day of results for the elections in many states – tomorrow is the D day (March 6, 2012)

Without any doubt, the year 2011 was probably the worst year for the Congress led Government. The ongoing investigations into the 2G scam, the CommonWealth Games preparation, and many others kept on showcasing that levels of corruption were incredibly high. Some amount of acclaim by Baba Ramdev in his quest against black money, and then the initial high levels of support for the anti-corruption campaign by Anna Hazare (coupled with the fumbling efforts by the Government to respond to the campaigns and the high level of arrogance seen from the Government side) pushed the Government to the back-foot. And then the Government saw its own ally leading the quest against an effort by the Government to push for some reform, namely the effort to bring in 100% FDI in retail, which was defeated by a campaign by Mamta Banerjee.
The year 2012 is likely to be another interesting year for the Congress, with some decisions by the Supreme Court on 2G already pushing the Government on the backfoot. And there is the elections for the Presidency, which is seen as an important symbolic step, but where the Government has a wafer-thin majority. And this is another reason where the forthcoming elections results are so important. These are the elections in the states of Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Goa and Punjab. In many of these states, the Congress fancies its chances, especially in the states of Punjab, Goa, Manipur, and Uttaranchal.

However, it is the state of Uttar Pradesh that is the most significant state, with a large number of seats and seen as necessary to start moving the Congress way in order to get the Congress to be less dependent on its allies. And the Congress has seen some progress, since the last Parliamentary elections saw the Congress get more support than the last Uttar Pradesh state elections. And so, the Congress main next leader, the boy wonder, Rahul Gandhi, has made this a prestige issue. The amount of pushing that Rahul Gandhi has done in this election, and that too from long past, has made this a prestige issue for him personally. This is a double edged effort for the Congress, since in previous elections failures, the dynasty has been saved by blaming local leaders. However, in the current elections, the Congress does not have a local leadership that is strong enough to be blamed for any failure in the elections, and so, the Congress needs to get a satisfactory number of seats. If this does not happen, then the doubts over Rahul’s suitability will start bubbling again within the party.
One already has seen some amount of media projected intrigue, with the media projecting a possible rift within the party with Priyanka Gandhi being seen as an alternative, and her husband Robert Vadra also making some noises politically (something that the party has tried to push to the background). Sonia Gandhi, because of possible health reasons, and giving space to Rahul Gandhi, has receded to the background.
For the BJP, the elections are important. Punjab and Uttaranchal are important states for the party, with Gujarat being ruled by a touch me not, and Karnataka seeing a lot of issues in terms of corruption and leadership issues. It needs to retain these states, else will be seen as a party that just cannot capitalize on all the issues that the congress hands in its lap.
If both the Congress and the BJP don’t emerge powerful from these elections, then the local state level parties will get even more power – they have already been projecting their power through opposition to central pushed moves such as the NCTC or the enhanced powers of the Railway Protection Force.

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