Saturday, May 16, 2009

Indian voters stun BJP, Congress juggernaut rolls on: Lok Sabha election results 2009

The Congress' victory and its revival has surprised even the most optimistic party workers who till recently appeared unsure that they would be able to reach close to 190* seats.

The 'weak' Manmohan Singh has knocked the 'Iron Man' LK Advani out of the electoral ring. Nobody had anticipated that the UPA would get the mandate once again, despite the anti-incumbency.

Such was the propaganda machinery of BJP and failure of TV channels to notice any under current, that even the senior Congress leaders would say that they expect 150 plus seats. On the eve of counting Digvijay Singh, who had to speak optimistically, gave a figure of 170. In his heart he must have been thinking of 150 as a more pragmatic number. However, the party has seen a magical revival, especially in Uttar Pradesh.

Not just rural India, the urban voters also rooted for the sober, down-to-earth Sardar and rejected the 'loud-mouthed' BJP leaders' who were always thundering and threatening.

There is a word in Hindi-Urdu: Badbola. Perhaps, it is this 'badbolapan' which Indians don't like. After the failure of India shining, this is the second BJP defeat in successive elections.

The 'Iron Man' failed to find favour among the electorate. The BJP's self-proclaimed toughness on terrorism didn't cut ice with the Indian voters. Perhaps, the histrionics didn't go down well.

May be Indians do have a soft corner for the dynasty but it's not just Nehru-Gandhi family but the humility of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi that does strike a chord with the voters. Rahul's visits to Dalit hutments and decision to sleep in huts at night seems to have sent a message. Though BJP leaders then mocked at him, but he didn't reply in the same idiom.

It is certainly a vote against Advani. The mild and soft-spoken Vajpayee was no longer on the scene. And voters were quite clear that they were exercising vote for the Parliament. That's why Congress had unexpected gains from across the country, even exceeding the most sympathetic opinion polls and exit polls.

The predictions had failed to understand the mood of voters, who were just not ready to go for communal, divisive and emotive issues.

Now there can be innumerable analyses like the success of NREGA (National Rural Guarantee Scheme) or Sonia Gandhi's charisma coupled with Rahul-Priyanka's charm who didn't aspire for any position just like their mother compared to octogenarian Advani's yearning for the post of PM and Narendra Modi's stake as next Prime Minister.

Urban middle-class Indian may call it gimmick but for rural folk, it is something that matters. Meanwhile, Nitish Kumar's JDU, Navin Patnaik's BJD, Mamata Bannerjee's Trinamool Congress, Karunanidhi's DMK and Y Rajashekhar Reddy are among the other heroes of the election.

The most spectacular results of the Lok Sabha election 2009:

1. Left citadel crumbled. That's a lesson to arm-chair Communists like Prakash Karat who don't come from Trade Unionist background, but run party like private-owned company. Karat acted like a despot.

2. Most of the psephologists were claiming that the 'enigmatic' Mayawati's BSP was going to win over 40 seats (though I felt that she was not going to increase to her tally and had mentioned it) and she stands more or less at the same number she was in the last election.

3. Congress revival in the Hindustani heartland is astonishing. The Upper Castes who had voted for BSP in Assembly elections voted for Brahmin candidates of Congress. A section of Muslims too voted for Congress' Muslim candidates like M Azharuddin.

4. Yes, everybody expected RJD to perform badly but Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP's poor performance has been a real surprise. What happened to his committed voter? Development and comparative decline in crime during Nitish Kumar's regime split even the strong Dalit (and Muslim) vote of Paswan.

5. Urban areas including national capital Delhi and the financial capital Mumbai that was targeted by terrorists, snubbed BJP. This once again proves that Indians don't like loud war-mongering leaders. This is a setback for BJP.