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The Five Assembly Polls

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  14 March 2017 12:00 AM GMT

The just concluded Assembly elections in the five States of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa are significant not only for the States concerned but for the future of democracy in India. For once, there are indications of greater importance being attached to performance just as there has been better voter turnouts in these States than in the past. There are also fairly clear indications of continuing support for the BJP and for Prime Minister rendra Modi. This is perhaps most clearly evident in the resounding victory of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh which won 312 seats in an Assembly of 403. This works out to 77.41 per cent of the total seats—more than a three-fourths majority that no political party has enjoyed in recent years in Uttar Pradesh. The best earlier performance that one recalls is the BJP victory of 1977 when it had bagged 352 seats in a larger House. Uttarankhand was then a part of Uttar Pradesh. Anti-incumbency voting also in Uttarakhand brought the BJP to power in Uttarakhand with 57 seats in a 70-member House. Likewise, in Punjab, The Congress, under the leadership of Amrindar Singh returned to power with 77 seats in a 117-member House (65.81 per cent). Had the Congress won one more seat, it would have had a clear two-thirds majority. Manipur and Goa have really had hung Assemblies, with no political parties being able to secure a clear majority. However, in Both States the Congress had bagged the largest number of seats: 28 in a 60-member House in Manipur and 17 in a 49-member House in Goa. Despite the BJP winning only the second highest number of seats, it has already staked claims to form the government in both States, and the governors in both States seem to have found nothing wrong in this. The Congress has termed this a murder of democracy in Manipur and Goa, but the BJP has claimed that it has the legitimacy and the numbers. In the case of Manipur, the Governor has asked Chief Minister Ibobi Singh to prove his majority by 18 March 2017, and in the case of Goa, Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has resigned in order to take over as Chief Minister again. In Goa, with the BJP winning just 13 seats in a 40-member Assembly, Parrikar hopes to mage with just 21 members with the support of the MGP and GFP (three MLAs each) and two of the four Independents who have won. Staying in power with a bare majority of one is going to be even more difficult than the three-member majority of the Labour Party in Britain that had compelled the ruling party to decide on mid-term polls in 1966.

There are clear indications in the just-concluded Assembly election results of the five States that party victories have been secured with performance. Significantly, the Congress has won only seven seats in Uttar Pradesh out of 403 seats. Its alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP) has helped neither the Congress nor the (SP). The SP that was in power maged to win only 47 of the 403 seats. In Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab we have had clear cases of anti-incumbency voting. Of the total of 690 seats in five States, the Congress was able to win only 140—just 20.28 per cent. But more than half of them (77 to be precise) were won in Punjab to put the Akali Dal alliance out of power. It is very likely that future elections in India will follow the pattern of the recent Assembly elections in the five States. There will probably be even greater voter turn-outs, and voting will go by performance of political parties in power rather than due to any sense of loyalty to any political party. With the results of the recent Assembly elections, one also has reasons to wonder if the Congress will remain a political party to reckon with, considering that 17 of the Indian States are now ruled by the BJP or BJP-led alliances.

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