05/12/2009, 00.00
INDIA

Uncertainty over the out come of Indian elections

by CT Nilesh
Tomorrow sees the last of the five rounds of voting. The results are due out on May 16th. Some predict gains for the the HinduBharatya Janata Party and losses for Congress, of outgoing premier Menmohan Singh. Alliances will be decisive in forming the next government.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Five rounds of polling in five different weeks were needed to consult 750 millions citizens. The fist round went on in the most difficult areas, those infested by Maoists who made their presence felt blowing up Police vehicles with mines and intimidating voters. The results will be known starting from the 16 of May. In India exit polls are forbidden. But the papers had published their own estimates. 

The first consideration is about the high number of parties in the fray. At least thirty aim to be represented in New Delhi. Never so many had national aspiration. But the press gathered them in four blocks. The two so called national parties: the Congress (1) and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) (2); then we have the three communist party (3) that have their strongholds in Kerala and in West Bengal; the fourth (4) block is made up by the recently new parties of the outcast that are in power in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

A second observation is that the two alliances that recently were: one in power (UPA, United Progressive Alliance) and the other at the opposition (NDA, National Democratic Alliance) had been dissolved and every single party is standing alone for the electorate.

The projections appeared recently in the press foresee a loss of 20 seats for the Congress Party and a gain of 10 for the BJP. So a photo-finish is expected for the last day. The one that will get a few seats more will get the chance to scout for allies to put together the required majority of 272 to form the government for the next five years. Then we will witness a scrambling for ministerial seats.

Many so called secular parties will not object going along with the BJP as it happened, for example, in Orissa with the party of Naveen Patnaik (Biju Janata Dal, BJD) that was associated for eleven years with the BJP, but left it just before the present elections.

The communists that for four years had been in the central government with the Congress, but left it, one year ago, in protest against the nuclear treaty with the USA, are speaking about a possible government along the parties of the outcast without Congress and without BJP.

Another chance spoken about is for the communists to join again the Congress if this gives up the premiership of Manmohan Singh.

The secret of the success of the BJP in the previous legislature was the fact that they understood first the need of a coalition, while the Congress was still dreaming to go all the way alone.

Every day the media come out with speculations about possible alliances. Particularly the speeches and movements of Rahul Gandhi are observed. He is 36, the bachelor son of Sonia, general secretary of the Congress. All the Gandhi family had been deeply involved in the election campaign. Sonia, reading out her speeches in chaste Hindi; Priyanka, already married with two children, very well praised for the saris she was wearing, for her kindness and for her resemblances to the grandmother Indira. But most of all Rahul is under the scanner as the possible political heir of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, with his sly smile and candid speech.

For the BJP the uncontested  candidate for premiership has always been LK Advani, over 80, who had been active member of RSS, who pretend to be secular, but still promises to build the national temple to the god Rama in the place where the Babri mosque was demolished by his initiative.

However, recently there had been some rumblings in favor of the candidature of Narendra Modi (it is said for the 2014, but is to show the a runner-up to Advani is available). He is the present chief minister of Gajarat, under inquisition for his role in the riots of 2002 when two thousands Muslims lost their life. But he can boast a high economic development of his state, he has provided electricity and drinking water to all the villages and he has assured for his state the factory of the famous small car Nano.

The numerous regional parties, self-declared Hindu-nationalist or secular-socialist, they will be ready to go right or left according to the chances to get a ministerial berth in New Delhi or some local advantage. For example Shiv Sena of Mumbai, Hindu-nationalist, will eagerly support the candidature of Sharad Pawar as prime minister, since he is from Maharashtra, although he was a member of the Congress Party and left it in protest against the candidature of the foreigner (Italian). Sonia Gandhi and started his own party NCP (National Congress Party), but in the last five years he had been Agriculture Minister in the Manmohan Signh government.

An other example of turncoat is Mamata Banarjee. She was expelled from the Congress Party in 1997 for indiscipline, she started her own Trinamul Congress in Calcutta and had always been waging opposition to the Communist government of West Bengal along with the BJP. Now during the election campaign she went along with the Congress. So the Congress is fighting the Communist in Calcutta but hoping to get their support in New Delhi.

Previsions are always difficult, particularly in a nation like India, so vast and different. Many times in India projections went wrong as in 1977 when Indira Gandhi was defeated, but bounced back few years later.

 

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