On verge of change!
On verge of change!, Exit Polls, Thursday Thoughts, K Ramachandra Murthy, Assembly Elections. The exit polls predicting the outcome of the Assembly elections in five States are not on unexpected lines. While the Congress governments in Delhi and Rajasthan were not able to overcome incumbency factor, the BJP dispensations in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh refused to succumb to the same.
The results of the Assembly elections are not going to alter the lives of the people remarkably. The incumbent governments were doing well in all the five States. But the Congress governments in the States had to reckon with the double incumbency of the UPA.
The exit polls predicting the outcome of the Assembly elections in five States are not on unexpected lines. While the Congress governments in Delhi and Rajasthan were not able to overcome incumbency factor, the BJP dispensations in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh refused to succumb to the same.
Almost all the agencies which had conduced exit polls had put out figures that generally agree with the popular estimation. No agency has positioned the Congress as victor in any State, save Mizoram. Though all the Congress spokespersons are going to say that the Assembly elections should not be considered as a commentary on the popularity of the Union government or the party that is heading the coalition in Delhi, it is customary to factor the projections made by the poll agencies, or the results to be declared in four days, into the assessment of the emerging scenario.
It is impossible to glean the grain from the chaff, but one can safely assume that the BJP is on the high. The Congress is going to lose narrowly in Chhattisgarh and Delhi while it is down and out in Rajasthan and beaten convincingly in Madhya Pradesh. Even Mizoram is going to be difficult for the Congress.
The results of the Assembly elections are not going to alter the lives of the people remarkably. The incumbent governments were doing well in all the five States. But the Congress governments in the States had to reckon with the double incumbency of the UPA. Whichever way the results might go, the governments that are going to be formed could be expected to provide fairly good governance.
The most important aspect to note in this election is the higher turn-out of the voters in all the States. In Delhi, like Rajasthan, the turn-out this time is more by ten per cent. In Delhi which is known for lethargic voter turnout had witnessed a keenly contested triangular contest. The apathy of the middleclass is visibly getting eroded.
Higher turnout is generally attributed to anger against the establishment or enthusiasm to bring about a change. The electoral machinery of both the Congress and the BJP deployed more funds and manpower compared to earlier elections. Whatever may be the reason it is a welcome development.
The curious factor for the people living outside the five States is the trend that could be discerned in the pattern of voting. Three main players were involved in these polls. The anti-graft activist-turned- political campaigner Arvind Kejriwal is one of them while the faces of the Congress and the BJP, Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi are the others.
If Aam Aadmi Party (AAM) under the leadership of Kejriwal wins Delhi, it will renew the hope in Indian parliamentary democracy. The message would be: You don’t have to be from a rich family or a ruling family or even an established political party to float an outfit, mobilise people and win elections. It will go a long way in instilling confidence among the young men and women across the country. Even if Kejriwal’s party loses, it has already established a trend in new, creative, people-centric politics.
The exit polls don’t give him a chance to win a majority. They project the BJP as the first and the Congress as the second followed closely by AAM. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has been in power for 15 years and she still retains a reasonable amount of goodwill. In spite of the negative baggage that the Congress party brings what with a number of scams-Coalgate to Railgate to 2G- the party has put up a fairly reasonable show, thanks to the CM.
The BJP had taken a good decision in changing the horse in the middle of the race. But it was a belated move. Whether it would be the incumbent or the traditional opposition party or the new kids in the town (AAP) that is going to rule the National Capital Region would be known on the 8th.
Chhattisgarh has a different backdrop. Like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh also has been a strong BJP bastion since 2003. But the Maoists attack last year which claimed the lives of the cream of the Congress party in Chhattisgarh, including that of former Union Minister Vidya Charan Shukla, has created favourable conditions for the party in Maoist-dominated areas. If there is a ray of hope for the Congress, it is in Chhattisgarh.
The BJP show in MP was dominated by Shivaraj Singh Chouhan who has carved a place for himself in the hearts of the people with welfare measures and people-friendly attitude. He is accessible to the common people and the corruption charges that were made against his colleagues in the Cabinet did not make any dent on his image.
The Congress strategy of putting young Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, of a popular dynasty, at the helm of its campaign was good, but it was too late. The factionalism and infighting in the Congress has made Chouhan’s job easy. If the Congress High Command continues to stay with Scindia and allow him to rejuvenate the party in MP it can hope for better results in 2014.
In Rajasthan, it is Vasundhara Raje’s show. Jyotiraditya’s aunt had started her campaign very early and the workers in BJP State headquarters distributed sweets on the very day the polling was over. Ashok Gehlot has good image but his ministers were a liability. The negative image of the UPA also had its bearing on his performance. Raje was not particularly efficient. She was also known to work through a coterie. But the people of Rajastan were obviously keen on a change. Raje’s popularity ratings are at their peak now.
People are eagerly waiting to know the real nature and reach of the “alleged” Modi wave. The Gujarat strongman had thundered on all the four major poll-going States with his aggressive oration. Though Chouhan did not use Modi in his posters and Vasundhara Raje depended on her own steam, Modi must have made a difference. The results of the Assembly elections would indicate how much punch Modi packed for the BJP. We can gauge how popular he is outside his home State and the raucous and cacophonic social media.
The results also would speak for the popularity of Rahul Gandhi who strenuously toured all the poll-bound States and spoke at a number of public meetings. Other Congress leaders also had ridiculed Modi for the goof-ups in his ill-advised references to Indian history and the investigation into the episode showing him as a friend of a woman entrepreneur. In spite of all these tricks, the BJP is apparently winning hands down. This shows how deep-seated the popular anger against the Congress is.
We cannot, however, jump to conclusion basing on the outcome of the Assembly elections. In 2003 when the BJP won handsomely in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the NDA under the leadership of Vajpayee was ruling in Delhi that was the capital of a Shining India. But come 2004 elections, the BJP lost miserably and the Congress formed the UPA government.
The exit polls generally are close to the actual results. The results of exit polls indicate that Modi, the Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP, has helped the party which was already in good position. There is no evidence to show that a particular State was won by BJP on account of Modi. His campaign may have helped. The same cannot be said of Rahul Gandhi, the chief campaigner for the Congress. That is indication enough for things to come.