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Mamata, Gogoi, Jaya sweep, Cong steals Kerala
The electorates in three states have sent a clear message by ensuring huge majorities.
New Delhi: The people of India have spoken, as they always do on voting day. They may squirm under the mis-governance of the governments they elect in good faith, they may rage at the corruption, nepotism and misdeeds of their elected representatives, they may appear helpless in the face of the might of the bureaucratic machinery. But when it comes to asserting their right as voters, they speak loud and clear. As the results from the states of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam - and the Union Territory of Pondicherry - reveal, their choices is unequivocal.
So is the statement behind the ballot. Deliver, or perish. Conversely, perform and be rewarded. No more of unconditional affiliation or ideology-based support.
Thus, there is a clear message in the overwhelming majorities that they have handed to Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress combine in West Bengal, and to Jayalalithaa's AIADMk alliance in Trinamool. In Bengal, the Left - ousted after 34 years - has been unceremoniously ejected as soon as a credible option appeared to the people. Disenchantment with its increasingly autocratic mode of governance, coupled with a trigger-happy set of arrogant administrators who did not baulk at issuing orders to shoot people down, had long been growing in the state. But with this election, the people have announced loudly that they believe Mamata Banerjee can extricate them. The message is as much for Banerjee as it is for those punished.
The punishment has been strong and swift. Starting with outgoing Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, a number of stalwarts - among them Finance Minister Ashim Dasgupta. Housing Minister Gautam Deb, Industries Minister Nirupam Sen, former education Minister Kanti Ganguly - are all trailing. Even in Left strongholds across the state, its candidates have been shown the door, with the Trinamool alliance virtually sweeping all pockets of West Bengal. With 226 leads versus 63, Mamata Banerjee's victory is overwhelming. It is hard to believe that the people of Bengal could not have known they were creating history in ringing out the old.
In Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK's Jayalalithaa has won a similar victory. A bigger triumph even than Mamata's in numerical terms, with 201 leads out of 234 seats - versus the DMK's 33 - it represents the electorate's strong desire to see the DMK's Karunanidhi Administration go. While Tamil Nadu has not been subjected to the domination of a single political force the way West Bengal has been, the huge margin suggests that there were overwhelming reasons for change. The margins show that people were not caught in two minds, with a small percentage of voters deciding the outcome.
Here, too, top DMK leaders are likely to bite the dust. Among the DMK bigwigs who were trailing, the most significant name is that of Trichy district secretary and party strong-man K N Nehru. Nehru was trailing his AIADMK rival by over 1500 votes at 12.07 pm in the fight for Tiruchirappalli West. In the fray to represent Villupuram constituency, K.Ponmudy, Higher Education Minister in the outgoing DMK government and a prominent businessman, is also trailing by over 1,000 votes. Health Minister MRK Paneerselvam, who garnered headlines for the scandal that broke over the sale of expired medicines, is also trailing from Kurinjipadi constituency by over 2000 votes.
Finance minister K Anbazhagan was also trailing by almost 4,000 votes from Villivakkam.Agriculture minister Veerapandi Arumugam, contesting from Sankari constituency, was trailing by over 10,000 votes. All these leaders were also district secretaries of the party and promoted nepotism. Most also used political clout to build up their businesses. The voters' message is obviously the same as in West Bengal.
Like in these two states, the Congress's share of 80 leads out of 126 - for which much of the credit must go to chief minister Tarun Gogoi's achievements - has a definitive story to tell. The vote here is for development and peace - both of which Gogoi has delivered. By contrast, the Opposition's agenda was perceived as one likely to disrupt and destroy this hard-earned stability in daily life. As a result, it was rejected with a vehemence similar to the one with which the electorate voted out the incumbents in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
As for Kerala, the UDF secured a simple majority on the narrowest of margins, with the LDF conceding defeat. The UDF won 72 seats compared to LDF 68 in the 140-member Assembly. With 46 per cent of votes going to the UDF, versus 45 per cent to the LDF, there is a palpable break with the past in terms of clearly opting for one force or the other. The message here is clear too: old rules no longer hold.
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