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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Anti - Incumbency? Yeah Right!!

The much hyped anti-incumbency factor comes to naught today, as the results pour in from India's general election. Saffron is sure taking a beating, what with the BJP's candidates falling like flies. They stuck to their guns on Hindutva, claiming that they would certainly build the Ram temple at Ayodhya if they came to power. Instead of focusing on development and the ailing economy, the NDA espoused the cause of bringing back money stashed in Swiss bank accounts (oh, like you guys never had any).

There have been major upsets though, certain prominent candidates like the Congress' Chidambaram is trailing to the AIADMK's Raja, E.V.K.S Elangovan faces certain defeat, Lalu Prasad lost in Pataliputra (and won in Saran constituency) and Ram Vilas Paswan has lost. The BJP's Varun Gandhi however, seems to have benefited from the ruckus he stirred up in Pilibhit, he's leading there by a huge margin.

UPDATE: Since the article was first written, Chidambaram was first declared defeated by AIADMK's Raja Kannappan by a margin of 3000 votes. Then after a recount was requested he mysteriously became the winner in his constituency. These results were rather suspect. So the AIADMK candidate filed a complaint on the basis of "irregularities in counting". The result though is unlikely to change.

A small mention about an independent candidate of interest to younger voters - Sarathbabu. He hasn't managed to brew up too many votes, he's certainly not even the 2nd candidate on the board. He was MTV Youth icon, a man who came from a life of abject poverty, studied in BITS Pilani and IIM-A, and chose to set up his own business rather than accept a high paying corporate job. I'll put up an update about his actual number of votes when the results become official. Still, full marks for his noble intentions, just that being an independent candidate and hoping that voters favour good education and common sense won't really work, atleast not in India.

Then there's Shashi Tharoor, former Under-Secretary-Generalof the UN, a very well-educated and widely respected, well-spoken man. He was on the Indian National Congress' ticket and he's won a resounding victory by a huge margin of 100,000 votes. I liked him better when he wasn't into politics but good for him, and I hope he lives up to the electorate's expectations.

The DMK has swept Tamil Nadu though there have been allegations that they had government employees cast a few votes for them under the names of those who hadn't turned up. That turned into a big fight in Triplicane between the DMK and the AIADMK. But the Congress has failed to live up to its expectations in Tamil Nadu, losing as I mentioned earlier, even important seats like that of Elangovan. This of course, will put the bargaining chips in the hands of the DMK, who'll shamelessly push for more posts in the Union Cabinet for every single relative our TN Chief Minister has. All 7 seats in Delhi went to the Congress.

The Left has some introspection to do too, facing its worst tally in West Bengal in 40 years and having the Congress roll over them in Kerala. So much for their "for the people" image, all they kept doing was block any measure that was pro-reform and go behind whatever China said. Sharpen the sickle boys, sharpen it sharpen it. You'll need a new hammer too, how about a Chinese-made one, they're pretty cheap.

Now, don't forget this election had a whole host of TV channels giving different outcomes, but it looks like CNN-IBN's predictions came true, while NDTV's pre-counting predictions and analysis pretty much fell flat on its face. Bad luck NDTV :D

On a national scale, the UPA alliance is ahead in 247 constituencies with the Congress by itself leading in 198 seats. The ruling Front is just short of a little over 20 seats for the magic figure of 272 in the 543-member Lok Sabha. A Congress spokesperson has announced that their present Prime Minister will definitely be Dr. Manmohan Singh, and Rahul Gandhi will be their PM candidate for the future. If Dr. Singh remains PM, it will be the first time in Indian history since Jawaharlal Nehru that a Prime Minister continues ruling for the next 5 years.

The younger politicians have done pretty well - Rahul Gandhi, Omar Abdullah, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot being examples. Rahul's hectic campaigning has certainly been a decisive factor in this winning vote. It looks like he might even be the recipient of a cabinet post. For those of you interested in knowing how the cricketers in the mix have done off their cricket pitch, the BJP's Kirti Azad and Navjot Singh Sidhu, and Congress' Azharuddin are winning, while the BJP's Chetan Chauhan was clean bowled, losing to the Congress by a huge margin in his constituency.

The NDA needs to do more than divide people along religious lines, or play the politics of caste and creed. The Indian voter isn't an idiot (atleast not complete idiots) to be lured by stuff like Ram temples, or bringing black money back to the country (atleast not coming from politicians who no doubt have plenty of it). The politics of hate aren't garnering the BJP any big number of votes. On the same topic, the Lankan issue didn't take much of a centre stage either, with the PMK losing even what little it had, ending up with just 1 seat - that of Anbumani Ramadoss.
{ UPDATE: As of 7.43P.M. on the 15th, the PMK has lost even that 1 seat i.e. they've been given the thumbs down for ALL 7 SEATS they contested for. :D }

The third, fourth, fifth, sixth - don't know how many of these fronts are there but they don't seem to have any backbone ;-) - have had a bit of cold water poured on their fiery words, giving a rather poor showing when it came to the vote count.

Talking about votes, the voter turnout this time was around 60% overall, something like a 2% increase compared to 2004's election. The rural areas had a much higher voter turnout. Take Tamil Nadu for example, had a voting percentage of 72.46% overall but Chennai's constituencies had around 63% ( an unbelievable 20% increase from 2004 !!!! ). But Chennai's voters showed how its done, putting their money where their mouth is.

Mumbai was as usual "all talk, no action". After all the big words said, speeches given, rallies on the streets and so-called anger at leaders' inaction and inappropriate actions after the Mumbai terror attacks, the turnout was a mere 41.28%. This means (yes, I tried some crazy calculations) that about 22% of voters will actually decide who becomes the ruling party in the state. What a democratic show Mumbai, you have absolutely no right to complain about the leaders you get. Sit tight and frequent your nightclubs, enjoy the booze and hotels and the pace of the city, just don't do your duty when it comes to showing the world the true nature of its biggest democracy. As for the idiots who have nothing better to do than beat up people who aren't from Maharashtra a.k.a Raj Thackeray's MNS --- well F-U, cos they got not a single seat.

Anyway, lets all hope this government can do something better this time around rather than just throw up a new proposal for reservations for various so-called backward castes at every stage of life. Results in-detail can be obtained at this address -

Update: Lalu has now conceded (after his party got merely 4 seats) that not contesting in alliance with the Congress was his greatest mistake.

As of 00:03hrs Indian Time on the 18th of May, these were the numbers :

CONG + 261
BJP + 159
LEFT + 24

BSP 20
SP 23
RJD + 4

BJD 13

JD(S) 3
OTH 11


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