Will Congress-led UPA smile again on May 13?
The UPA had won the General Election for the 14th Lok Sabha on May 13, 2004.
New Delhi: As the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government faces its first major electoral challenge in 2011 amidst allegations of corruption and its inability to control inflation, there is one reason to cheer for the political formation.
The Election Commission on Tuesday announced the dates of Assembly elections for four states and one Union Territory. The Assembly elections start on April 4 when Assam goes to polls and ends on May 10 in West Bengal.
Although the Congress and its allies look to be on a strong wicket in some of the states what they would be really interested in is the counting date which is on May 13. The date has proved to be a lucky one for the alliance once as the UPA won the General Election for the 14th Lok Sabha on May 13, 2004.
Its poll managers will at least take heart from the fact that if nothing else, their lucky date of May 13 will bring more happy news for them.
Faced with numerous corruption charges the Central Government has been forced to replace A Raja as telecom minister following allegations of his involvement in the multi-crore 2G scam and its chief minister in Maharashtra over a housing scam.
Following the rout of Congress in Bihar elections in November 2010, the party will be hoping to put up a better performance in these elections and perhaps hoping to capture or retain power in some of the states.
When Lok Sabha Elections were announced in 2004 the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance was riding high and was expected to sweep the elections. With the India Shining campaign plastered across the entire length and breadth of the country, not many expected any surprise in the election with the Congress and its allies in disarray.
There was no pan-India leader in the UPA and Sonia Gandhi was seen as being handicapped following the shrill campaign against her being a 'foreigner' by the opponents.
Even the exit polls by all the channels and newspapers predicted a major win for the BJP-led NDA. Atal Bihari Vajpayee had been the prime minister of the country for more than six years and the BJP was being seen as the party of the new millennium and the rising and shining India.
However, the poll pundits ended with an egg on their face when the election results came out.
In one of the biggest surprises seen in Indian electoral history, the UPA came back to power albeit with the help of the Left Front dealing a major blow to the BJP. The loss was such a hard pill to swallow for the BJP that Vajpayee went into semi-retirement, handing over the reign on the party to LK Advani.
But whether May 13 will once again prove to be lucky for the Congress and UPA will only be known when the EVMs are opened on the counting day. Till then only the voters of four states of Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry know if the Grand Old Party of India will have a reason to smile.