India to decide winners, losers MondayDecember 6th, 2008 - 1:44 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Dec 6 (IANS) The outcome of the just ended assembly elections in five Indian states - a mammoth popularity test involving nearly 100 million voters — will be known Monday, with analysts saying it is sure to impact on parliamentary polls next year.Votes cast by an estimated 66 percent of the 98 million voters in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Chhattisgarh will be counted from 8 a.m. Monday.
Most results are expected by that afternoon.
The elections in all states barring Mizoram involved straight contests, mainly between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the two major national parties that will vie to take power after the next general election.
While the Congress has ruled Delhi since 1998 and hopes to win a third five-year term, the BJP seems confident of retaining power in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh besides capturing the national capital.
The Mizoram fight was between the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), formerly an insurgent group, and the Congress.
“These election results are quite important in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections as these states have a sizeable chunk of parliament seats,” political analyst G.V.L. Narasimha Rao told IANS.
“Whichever party (BJP or Congress) wins most or a majority of these assemblies will get a momentum for the Lok Sabha elections,” he added.
Staggered elections in the five states began Nov 14 in Chhattisgarh and concluded Dec 4 in Rajasthan, India’s largest state. Some people have called it a “semi-final” ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Balloting to pick a new legislature in troubled Jammu and Kashmir began Nov 17 and is still on. It will end Dec 24 and the vote count will take place four days later.
Barring Chhattisgarh, elections in the other four states took place under the shadow of the audacious terror attack in India’s financial capital Mumbai, leaving 172 people dead, including 22 foreigners, and dealing a severe blow to the nation’s psyche.
Political parties reported a sudden surge in voting percentage in urban areas in the wake of the Mumbai massacre.
BJP leaders say they are confident of retaining Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh but are feeling a bit shaky in Rajasthan. The BJP is also confident of unseating the Congress in Delhi.
Congress sources say their initial enthusiasm about retaining Delhi and pushing out the BJP from power in two of three other states appear to have been derailed by the Mumbai happenings.
Officially, however, both the parties are claiming they will be the winners in all the states.
Analyst Rao added that since most of the state elections were held in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror, “the results will decide if terrorism will be a major issue in the Lok Sabha elections along with issues such as inflation”.
BJP and Congress leaders say that any party coming on top in these polls will enter 2009, when the general election is due, with a psychological advantage. The winner will also be in a position to woo new allies.
Analyst Sudha Pai, however, warned against drawing conclusions that a winner in the state polls will necessarily be the winner in the Lok Sabha battle.
“If you look at the past, then there is no relation between the results of assembly and Lok Sabha elections. In 2004 the Congress came to power (in the country) despite facing a series of losses in assembly elections just earlier,” she said.
Pai added that parliamentary elections were most unlikely to take place in February.
“If it takes longer, then some newer issues might crop up that can become the deciding factor in the Lok Sabha elections,” she said.
Political parties are already in the process of forming or redrawing alliances as they prepare for the general election.
Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Delhi account for 73 Lok Sabha seats - about a seventh of the house’s elected members.