Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Election results 2012: 5 states, 5 scenarios and the centre in the balance

Poll verdictElection results from five states are to be announced today, with the fortunes of the Gandhi political dynasty and the national government riding on the outcome. 

The most important polls took place in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state and its most politically significant where 200 million people live amid some of the most entrenched poverty on the planet. 

Rahul Gandhi, the next in line in the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty which has dominated Indian politics since independence in 1947, has led campaigning there for the Congress party, which runs the federal government.

Here is what poll verdict means for Congress. 

Wins in four states +60 seats in UP for Congress 
Congress will be well-positioned to bounce back from inertia and tame coalition partners within the UPA. The Centre can recover from prolonged policy paralysis and muster courage to take bold decisions. The principal opposition in Parliament, BJP, will be completely demoralised as Congress regains momentum. 

Four wins+30 seats in UP 
Wins in PunjabUttarakhandGoa and Manipur will help offset the poor performance in Uttar Pradesh.The party's spin doctors will step in to insulate star campaigner Rahul Gandhi from the UP verdict even as they seek to credit him for the rest of the results. Without even a single win, BJP will lose the will to fight.

Three wins+60 seats in UP 
As good as the best-case scenario for Congress. Expect the Centre to regain its mojo and deliver on some longpending policy decisions. Both the Opposition and the dissenting coalition partners will find it more difficult to take on Congress. 

Two wins+60 seats in UP 
Nothing to rejoice, but a scenario that Congress will not be unhappy with. A good performance in UP will keep Brand Rahul flying, even as the party flounders elsewhere. Congress will regain the appetite to fight it out in the electoral battles ahead. 

Two wins+25 seats in UP 
An electoral nightmare for Congress, which will have to contend with emboldened allies as well as the Opposition. The party will scramble to salvage the credibility of its star campaigner. The Centre will be under renewed pressure to deliver more pro-people (read populist) policies, even as fiscal prudence comes under further strain. Congress will not have the stamina for the next big electoral battle in Gujarat. 

Battles ahead 
An electoral debacle for Congress will only strengthen the newly-formed grouping of chief ministers of eastern and southern states, including the Trinamool Congress chief and UPA member Mamata Banerjee. First, Congress will confront the challenge of re-electing K Rahman Khan, deputy chairman in the Rajya Sabha whose term comes to an end on April 2. 

This will be followed by the election of the President in July, when Congress will find it tough to install its candidate in Rashtrapati Bhavan. More embarrassment will be in store for Congress if the 'alliance of chief ministers' props up APJ Abdul Kalam and BJP decides to lend support.

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