Message of Election 2009: Perform or perish

May 21st, 2009 - 12:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj Party New Delhi, May 21 (IANS) Performance scored over identity politics, inclusive agenda scored over communal agenda and regional parties demonstrated they can have their space along with national parties if they deliver. This was the message of Election 2009 in India.
“It is a national verdict more in favour of an alliance that can guarantee a cohesive, progressive and secular agenda. We can now say that along with national parties important regional parties will continue to stay in Indian politics,” Zoya Hasan, a professor of political science at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) told IANS.

Political scientist Imtiaz Ahmad said in these elections, voters in many states preferred a national party to non-performing regional parties.

He cited the instances of Uttar Pradesh, where Chief Minister Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) got only 21 of 80 seats, and Bihar, where Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) made a big sweep with 20 of 40 seats.

“People have rejected Mayawati because her state government failed to perform while people voted for Nitish Kumar because he delivered what had been expected from him,” Ahmad said.

N.P. Chekutty, a Kerala-based political analyst, said: “I don’t think that it is a reversal of the trend of coalition politics. Regional parties will have a major role to play in Indian politics, but their role will depend on their performance.

“They will also have to rise above personalities, identity and emotional issues.”

In India, the first coalition government came to power at the centre in 1989 when V.P. Singh became prime minister with support both from the Right and the Left.

Since then the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have also given in to the compulsions of coalition politics, forming the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) respectively with the help of various regional parties.

In the results of the 15th Lok Sabha polls declared Saturday, the UPA emerged as the largest coalition with 270 seats in a house of 543 and the Congress as the single largest party with 206 seats. The last time the Congress won more than 200 seats was in 1991, when its tally was 232.

The UPA also has the support of four independent MPs, taking it beyond the halfway mark of 272. With BSP, Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal offering support from outside, the strength of the treasury benches has gone up to a comfortable 322.

“Regional parties will continue to have their own space,” said Kamal Akhter, a Rajya Sabha MP of the Samajwadi Party.

“As far as the issue of performance is concerned it is the same for both the regional and national parties. Both will have to perform for their existence,” Akhter told IANS.

Congress leaders have been pleasantly surprised by the performance of the party in Uttar Pradesh where it won 21 of 80 seats. The party had won only nine seats in the state in 2004.

“The results in Uttar Pradesh are surprising. The credit goes to UPA policies, especially schemes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and a loan waiver for the farmers which have benefited even the poorest of the poor,” Prithviraj Chavan, party general secretary, told IANS.

Pralay Kanungo, a professor of political science at JNU, said besides development, several other factors connected to regional parties play a major role in determining voting trends.

“Calling the verdict a reversal of coalition politics would be immature. Along with developmental issues many other regional and local factors will continue to play a major role in determining voting trends,” Kanungo told IANS.

He cited the example of Orissa where the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), a regional party, has won assembly elections for the third time in a row and also picked up 14 out of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

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