Congress’ South vaastu needs fixing

The results of the Assembly elections in four states and one Union Territory announced on Friday reflect the strength of Indian democracy. Many leaders have been humbled by the voters of this country, and this time they have sent a message through West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who lost, and deputy chief
minister of Tamil Nadu

M.K. Stalin who just about managed to retain his seat. It is heartening to see that when it comes to voting, performance and reputation trumps cash, gifts and others inducements.
The All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has won 202 of 234 seats in Tamil Nadu, decimating the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Congress Party in the state. This is the price the two parties have had to pay for the corrupt DMK family and the fact that the Congress continues to wish away the 2G spectrum scam with its “no revenue loss” theory. The Congress has won just five of the 63 seats it contested in Tamil Nadu.
The Congress even lost in Puducherry which they should have won by a mile and have barely managed a four-seat margin in Kerala.  
Mamata Banerjee has swept West Bengal, relegating the Congress to the role of a “silent partner”. In Assam, however, the Congress has reason to cheer Tarun Gogoi who has won for a record third term as chief minister with a record margin and confirmed his reputation, along with Sheila Dikshit, of being in the top bracket of effective Congress chief ministers.
In the Karnataka byelections, all the three seats have gone to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and in Andhra Pradesh Jagan Mohan Reddy has won the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat by over five lakh votes while his mother has wrested the Pulivendula Assembly seat from the Congress candidate by 85,000 votes. For the Congress, the southern states are in turmoil.
No matter how much spin the Congress tries to put on its performance, the fact is that these results are a major setback for the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance which was hoping to form a majority government in Delhi in 2014.
I see the Congress, which currently has 206 Lok Sabha seats, slipping to 160-170, and I see the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) also shrinking further from their current numbers to 120-125 seats.
Regional forces seem set to grow stronger: the Trinamul Congress is likely to increase its share from 19 seats to 30 seats; J. Jayalalithaa and the AIADMK will go from the existing nine Lok Sabha seats to 25; and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) may go from 19 seats to 35. No one knows which national party these regional forces will support, and whom they will consider a predator.
The 2G scam is like an octopus with a hundred tentacles that is under the observation of the Supreme Court. It will not go away. In fact, after the DMK’s ouster, more scams are likely to surface in Tamil Nadu. Within the DMK family the blame game will start between the two wives, the sons, a pampered daughter and two nephews. All of them have sizeable assets and these will now come under scrutiny. Chief minister-elect Jayalalithaa will move cautiously.
But the DMK, with its 18 MPs, needs the Congress now to try and keep Kanimozhi out of jail and to deal with the other cases that are sure to come up soon. But if the Congress continues to depend on their numbers, its own future in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh will be in jeopardy.
Ms Banerjee, the other chief minister-designate, has a clear agenda for West Bengal and is well aware that the Left, with a 41 per cent vote share, has been humbled but not decimated like the DMK. She will look for political solutions and “additional assistance” from the home minister to deal with the Left cadres who have literally ruled West Bengal’s rural areas for over three decades.
Violence is rarely generated by the winner. It is most likely to be instigated by the losing side. West Bengal is seeing a change after 34 years of Left governance; vested interests can create problems. The first few months will not be easy for Ms Banerjee and that is why the Trinamul Congress leader is already talking of reconciliation. The Trinamul Congress leader is well aware of her power and has cleverly steered clear of commenting on issues not connected with her state. She will remain on good terms with everyone in the Opposition. Ms Banerjee is like Sharad Pawar who only has nine MPs but punches way beyond his number-strength. This is called power politics.
Mr Gogoi has done his party proud by literally decimating both the Asom Gana Parishad and the BJP in Assam.
His peace initiatives have given him the numbers to convert a messy minority government into a stable government. He has won with a huge margin and this victory will be a great boost to the internal security situation in the state.
I hope that Anna Hazare and friends, who are on an all-India tour, will not just marvel at the wisdom of the voting public who have returned a decisive verdict, but also realise that “electoral” politics is the only way forward.
I think a Cabinet reshuffle is overdue, and the focus this time is likely to be on the 10 Union ministers from Tamil Nadu who have produced just 31 Assembly seats!

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