Political patchwork in south: Poll vault in two, turmoil in others

May 22nd, 2011 - 3:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bangalore, May 22 (IANS) The picture is fragmented, reflecting political churning that is yet to coalesce into stability. India’s four southern states - Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh - are in the throes of political change with either new governments or old challenges.

If Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Kerala are grappling with new governments, Karnataka is fighting charges of being a hub of corruption and Andhra Pradesh uncertainty with the ruling party being challenged by one of its own.

The April assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, once a leading state in governance, and Kerala, known for high voter polarisation, came as Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh were heading for political uncertainty amid open dissidence.

According to K.J. Joseph, professor at Thiruvananthapuram’s Centre for Development Studies (CDS): “The big picture that emerges from the political developments in the four southern states is that as economy becomes vibrant, corruption has also become vibrant. This has been the history of many developing countries and India is witnessing it.”

“What is needed is not only not being corrupt but singing the anti-corruption song loud. The nexus between economy and corruption needs to be reflected upon,” Joseph told IANS.

Pollsters predicted a repeat in Kerala - the winner takes all, as in the past — and just a comfortable majority for the opposition AIADMK alliance in Tamil Nadu.

The results surprised all.

In Tamil Nadu, the J. Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK front won 203 seats while the DMK alliance of M. Karunanidhi got just 31. In contrast, Kerala’s was a close result with the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) coming to power in the 140-member assembly with 72 seats, just four more than the Left Democratic Front (68 seats).

Discussing the changes in Tamil Nadu, Sandeep Shastri, pro-vice-chancellor of Jain University in Bangalore, told IANS:
“Tamil Nadu has often had waves in favour of one of the two alliances.”

The reasons for the change, he said, were “more effective coalition - both in terms of political and social coalition; anti-incumbency against DMK after 10 years; corruption charges against DMK and Congress leaders and protest against the DMK ruling family monopolizing state politics and patronage.”

“It is a silent coup by the Tamil Nadu people,” political analyst Gnani told IANS in Chennai.

The Kerala result was the outcome of the Left government patting itself on the back for its many welfare schemes, maybe taking the people too much for granted.

“The downfall of the Left government should be attributed to the manner in which they took shelter under self-congratulations by enacting numerous welfare schemes, especially the weaker sections,” CDS’ Joseph added.

As Tamil Nadu’s 72 million population and Kerala’s 33 million people await new policies and programmes from their new chief ministers - Jayalalithaa and Oommen Chandy respectively - Karnataka’s 61 million and Andhra Pradesh’s over 84 million people are staring at political instability.

Ruling parties in the two states - the Congress in Andhra Pradesh and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka - are hit by dissidence.

In Andhra Pradesh, Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, who walked out of the Congress for not being made to succeed his father, late chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, has scored a huge victory in the Kadapa Lok Sabha byelection. His mother Y. S. Vijayalaxmi also handsomely won the Pulivendula assembly seat.

Jagan, who has floated YSR Congress, has already challenged the Congress party to go for a snap poll.

However, Shastri said the victory of Jagan, as he is popularly known, could not be taken as a pointer to the shape of things to come in the state.

“Jagan victory had to happen at least in Kadapa… it is no pointer to the direction of politics in the state though the Congress has to rethink its strategy,” he said.

In Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa has been hit by dissidence ever since he took over as chief minister in May 2008. This third year of his rule has been marred by grave charges of corruption and illegal land deals against him.

The fate of his government now lies with the central government as Governor H. R. Bhardwaj has sought its dismissal.

The unseemly controversy has hit headlines with the chief minister and the governor trading allegations.

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