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Electoral outcome and subsequent objectives

Friday, May 10, 2019
By Ranajoy Sen

With the completion of five phases of the general election, the appraisals and conjectures of the likely outcome of the election, to be declared on 23 May, are rising. The outcome is surely elusive, at present. It would only be known on the scheduled date. The major political parties contesting this election are surely in a state of expectation and a bit of anxiety – although all of them are likely to not accept the latter attribute. They would state that whatever the outcome, they would accept it; which is what it is and should be. Nevertheless, what most would be saying is that they would surely be in a favourable position after the declaration of election results.  

There are still basically two political parties with a pan-India presence; although, that presence is in varying strength for both the concerned parties across the country. The concerned parties need not be named, except for the sake of doing so: they are the Congress and the BJP. Till the beginning of the election, it was not very certain as to what strength the Congress might be in while it waded into the national elections. Nevertheless, from the weeks leading up to the first phase of the elections, the Congress’s campaign appears to have gathered steam. Furthermore, the Congress President, Rahul Gandhi and his sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, - a General Secretary of the Congress - seem to have somewhat successfully read into the pulse of quite a number among the electorate.

Raging issues of the day
They have been speaking aplenty on the raging issues of the day; employment, agricultural crisis, and the economy in general. In addition, the Congress party has also harped about national security, and the need to prevent any compromise with the country’s safety, honour and prestige among the comity of nations. Nevertheless, the BJP has been implying that the country’s security and prestige would remain protected best through their rule of the country. Therefore, the electorate, the BJP leaders seems to imply, would do well to cast their vote for the BJP or the BJP-Led NDA coalition candidates.

However, there are other influential regional parties too, which are very much in the electoral fray. Notable are the SP and the BSP in Uttar Pradesh, RJD in Bihar, the TMC in West Bengal, BJD in Odisha, Telugu Desam in Andhra Pradesh, and the DMK and the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu. In Kerala, however, the present government is ruled by the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front. Its leaders would surely want the BJP-led NDA to not get a majority in Parliament. But, exactly which side they would join or indicate their preference for, if at all, remains nebulous at this stage. Very recently, the Chief Minister (CM) of Telengana, K Chandrashekar Rao, travelled to the Kerala state capital of Thiruvananthapuram to meet with and confer with the Kerala CM, Pinarayi Vijayan, about the possibilities of a post-poll scenario.

What might be the post-poll scenario? It appears from certain indications that the BJP may not have a domineering position in Parliament. Nevertheless, it is likely to be in a position of working majority through assistance from alliance partners. If so, that could make things more of an ordeal for the BJP than what it had been during the preceding five years. What could be the possible scenario for the opposition of the outgoing Parliament? From several estimates, it seems that they would surely increase their strength in Parliament. Now, what the likely tally of each individual parties’ seats could be is not possible to be stated at this time. But, it is very likely that the opposition parties, individually and collectively, would increase their vote share as also their respective seat numbers in Parliament.

The principal possibilities appear to be the following: a BJP-led NDA with a bare, working majority; a coalition of a so-called “Federal Front”, which could take shape, notwithstanding its form after the election results have been announced; third, and finally a Congress-led coalition government, which would have to work out its particulars after the electoral results. However, whatever the form of government awaiting India post-election results, it would have to be a coherent, stable government to be able to administer good governance, and its attendant attributes, to the country.

Rhetoric and counter rhetoric
The campaigns have been full of rhetoric and counter rhetoric. However, a noticeable factor has been Rahul Gandhi’s and Priyanka Gandhi’s continual insistence on civility and the prevention of unacceptable words or statements against other party workers or political leaders. In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee has repeatedly harped upon the good developmental work that her government has done for the state - and there seems to be several of them - and has ventured to passionately and factually counter the BJP’s allegations against her government.

The much-talked-about “Modi wave” of the previous general elections of 2014 appears somewhat elusive, this time. It is true that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a very visible and forceful presence upon the campaigning scene in India; but, some of his statements seem concentrated in trying to counter his political opponents rather than trying to bring about a political narrative of his own. Even then, however, he appears confident and resolute in carrying his party’s message to the people.

Whatever might be the outcome, the objectives for the next central dispensation should be very clear. They constitute essentially the attributes of managing and rectifying agricultural distress, uncompromising national security, appropriate employment policies, non-appeasement, prevention of vote bank politics and encouraging constructive, effective political deliberations within the country’s political arena.

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