Signals from polls in states

Kashmir Times. Dated: 5/27/2019 12:23:40 AM

The results in four Legislative Assembly elections throw fresh light on political strategies and behaviour of voters

The results of four Legislative Assemblies of Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh, which also went to polls alongside the Lok Sabha elections over the last two months hold special political signals for all the contesting parties. These four states elected new members to the Legislative Assemblies and Lok Sabha members in the simultaneous elections. Naveen Patnaik was declared victorious for the fifth consecutive term as chief minister in Odisha, while in Sikkim, Pawan Kumar Chamling, the longest serving chief minister lost after his party Sikkim Democratic Front was defeated by the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha despite his landmark reforms and social welfare schemes that made people of Sikkim proud of becoming a model in development and highest per capita income in the country. His tenure as chief minister beginning from 1994 has been marked by many ups and down while he continued to work for his people in an unprecedented manner making improvements in education, health and social welfare schemes that have few parallels in the country. In Arunachal Pradesh, the BJP has won the Assembly elections and this victory serves as reminder of the curious ways in which the party has expanded its Saffron footprint in the North Eastern Region. It is important to note that Pema Khandu, the current chief minister won on Congress mandate in 2014. He became chief minister 2916, shifted to People's Party of Arunachal as its leader and then moved to the BJP, where he still remains as an important member. The BJP's acquisitive approach to politics in general has been effective in the Northeast. Now, the SKM in Sikkim might ally with the BJP, which has been making all out attempts to ally with either of the two parties for gaining power. The spectacular victory of the YSR Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh, in turn, is a reminder of the Congress' persistent mishandling of the state since the abrupt death in an accident of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, the party's then CM, better known as YSR, in 2009. The arrogance within the Congress has not only alienated YSR Congress but also made attempts to show him down when YSR's son staked claim to the chief minister's post in 2009 itself. This was unfortunately followed by love and hate relationship with YSR Congress with the latter opting to ally with Chandra Babu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party in the recently concluded elections. Naidu was an ally of ally of the BJP in the previous elections in 2014 and parted ways when he did not get a special status for the state after bifurcation of Telengana as a new state.
It is also important to note that YSR had helped the Congress win more than three dozen Lok Sabha members from the undivided state, Andhra Pradesh in 2004 and 2009, the single biggest contingent for the party from any state and which powered the UPA-1 and UPA-2 in Parliament. Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, YSR's son, sought the top post in the state after his father's death, but the Congress high command, which has a high tolerance for demands of offsprings of party leaders, raised the bar in this instance. Jagan Mohan Reddy launched his regional outfit, the YSRCP, routed out the Congress, which was reeling under the adverse after-effects of the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, and has now won decisively across regions of the state nine years later. In Odisha, Naveen Patnaik's victory in the Assembly was overwhelming but the BJP, which has won eight of the 21 Lok Sabha seats from the state, is sitting in the wings, having displaced the Congress as the principal Opposition party. The results in Odisha are also indicative of a new political trend whereby voters differentiate between the state and national elections. Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, states that chose the Congress over the BJP in Assembly elections only months ago, swung right back to the saffron party in the Lok Sabha polls. In Odisha, even with both elections being held simultaneously, this demarcation is stark, though the BJD still got more seats than the BJP. In Jagan Mohan Reddy's case, he swept the Lok Sabha polls too, indicating that a hard-working regional leader with effective political messaging through his social welfare schemes and outreach to the people including the large Tribal population can resist top-down hyper-nationalism and national security issues.



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