Elections results for 4+1 states – major changes expected ..

The recent elections in the 5 states that got completed on December 4th 2013 were very keenly contested. Except for Mizoram, where a popular group ensures that all the parties involved keep their electioneering in check (and minus the excesses that happen in all other states), the other 4 states (Delhi, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan) have seen almost frenzied campaign by the parties involved to try and push ahead. The stakes are very high in these elections, and the expected results can cause an upheaval.
As soon as voting ended on the 4th of December, TV news channels started showing exit polls that tried to predict what the results are likely. There is a lot of controversy about exit polls, and there are some pros and cons on both sides. For those who claim that surveys are an imperfect science and sampling does not work, surveys are not only used for elections results. They form an integral part of almost every consumer industry, whether this be to determine a need for new features, or for determining the success of a new product (or variant of existing product). However, to use it for a country with so many differences in terms of classes, castes, etc makes it tricky, and hence there are variations in the results of different surveys.
If we move ahead with the assumption that the surveys are broadly correct, these exit polls point to a huge loss for the Congress, something that the party is already trying to play down. For some time now, the Congress has been hit by a number of factors – whether being perceived as corrupt, uncaring about galloping inflation or the economy not generating jobs, amplified by factors such as the 2G scam, Coalgate, Nirbhaya rape and murder case, Anna Hazare agitation, and so on. In all these cases, the Congress was not perceived to be adequately responding to public mood, and in fact, the Congress used to unleash ministers who were proficient in sounding arrogant (Kapil Sibal or Chidambaram, anyone ?). But, one wonders about the advice that the Congress was getting, since they kept on moving from one crisis to another, with some crisis such as the sky-rocketing costs of onions being almost entirely preventable.

The Congress has believed in 3 basic principles – the BJP will not be able to exploit this discontent and will not get allies; that Rahul Gandhi is somebody who the population looks up to; and that dishing out subsidies or sops would help to get the electorate on their side. So, as a result, the UPA Government has been trying to make as many schemes as possible that promise something to the poor, but somehow do not have the patience or the detail-orientation to ensure that these schemes are free from as much corruption as possible, and most of them are happening only recently, which does not give enough time to ensure that the schemes are running well and delivering the benefits, which also means that these schemes do not deliver the expected results. The Congress also had to reckon with the fact that the BJP suddenly decided to turn active, and has a leader in the form of Narendra Modi who is ensuring that the elections revolves around him (it is becoming almost like every other party vs. Modi, which gives him a development profile in large chunks of the country).
For the Congress, it was a usual pattern. Send in Rahul Gandhi to do the campaigning and make a plea to the amount that the Congress is putting to help the poor and the impoverished, although it was very surprising this time to see that probably Rahul was forced to also make emotional appeals using the name of his father and grand-mother in order to get people on his side. One of the major factors that would make a difference this time was the amount of decentralization in the party. The BJP has strong leaders in each state where it is of some importance, and it managed to emphasize the seniority of one leader in each state (even in a state such as Delhi) and put that leader also in a position of being able to grant tickets. The Congress High Command on the other hand would still like to decide who the leader is, and also ensure that tickets are granted on the basis of the central leadership rather than being run from each state (thus trying to ensure that it was possible that the tickets were granted not on the basis of best winning candidate, but instead on a formula decided by Rahul and his team). If these elections are lost by the Congress there is going to be some rethink on this formula, given that the Lok Sabha elections are likely only a few months away.
The most significant wave could happen in Delhi. With the happiness of having put down the Anna agitation, the rise of Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party will be extremely significant if the party wins more than 10 seats, and if comes within the same or more vote share of the Congress, it can start a wave that will cause tremors in atleast the urban areas of the country. After all, this is a party that did not exist 2 years back, did not have any significant leaders, and has been wearing a badge of honesty as their only strength. And the party has risen so fast, that it seems that it can only fail. And yet, the amount of support that it has got this time may lead to further growth in the urban areas around Delhi and in other urban centers such as Mumbai and Bangalore, something which should scare both the traditional national parties.

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