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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

State Elections of India 2012: Sidelights!


Yesterday was a hectic day for all in the Indian media including this writer as counting for assembly election results of the five states of India started at 8am sharp. This was rated as the semi-final for India’s General Elections of 2014 and so the media hyperactivity and expectations were at the peak.  All news channels were live the whole day and late into the night debating, analyzing, assessing, speculating and of course reporting the trends, results and possible government formations with permutations and combinations. Not possible to give you everything here and so we have selected a few observations for you on calculations based on various exit polls going terribly or pleasantly wrong from the media point of view.

  • The first state of interest was Uttar Pradesh—the biggest and politically the most important state of India. Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi campaigned extensively here to oust feudalistic and corrupt Mayawati and bring in a rejuvenated Congress. Mayawati was ousted alright, but Congress fared only marginally better than last time. Since his campaign itself was hyped his apparent defeat was hyped even more.
  • Representing the young generation Rahul succeeded in only throwing out Mayawati while another young leader of Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav—son of the former chief minister—brought his Samajwadi Party (SP) back to power. That too a landslide victory with a stunning majority when all in media were speculating about a hung assembly with immense possibilities, who can ally with whom and even imposition of President’s rule there.
  • SP back in power with resounding success gave way to more speculation, because SP is considered as a party of goons and as another feudalistic force replacing the other. In fact, some journalists were attacked and taken hostage last night by SP workers. But young Akhilesh is well-educated, down-to-earth and relatively liberated. So the question is how he is going to rule the state! With his dad around live and kicking he cannot possibly become the next chief minister! And comically, the first question he faced from the media was ‘Will you destroy all the statues of Mayawati now?’ The young man said ‘No!’ Before political campaigning the Election Commission of India had ordered all statues to be veiled immediately!
  • Recording an all time voting record of 81% Goa gave a clear verdict. The ruling Congress alliance was beset with problems of the illegal land mining scam and tourist security, but nobody could predict its unceremonious ousting. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance got rewarded with nearly two-third majority in the 40-member Assembly.
  • In Punjab it was cut-throat between Congress and Akali Dal-BJP alliance, but actually the latter secured a record number of seats coming back for the second term.
  • Scam-corruption-inflation infested India’s ruling coalition is under tremendous pressure from opposition parties and the media due to poor performance of Congress. ‘What will happen to you in 2014?’ The answer is ‘No impact!’ And yes, who knows! The other question being would the newly elected parties be able to function free of the same vices!
In a true democracy you are not at all supposed to predict the citizens’ verdict. It’s because of creation of vote banks, politics of compartmentalization and polarization and the like that prediction is often accurate. If more than 80% of India decides someday to vote the result is bound to be most democratically unpredictable. 


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