Friday, October 09, 2009

Parties tense, Litmus test nears

No dispensation APPEARs comfortable as maharashtra goes to polls. pramod kumar feels price rise, farmers' suicides and anti-incumbency can be key factors

After the recently held by-polls in Gujarat and Bihar, a political analyst quipped that an arrogant Congress has had a reality check and the Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana will put the UPA in its place. As far as Maharashtra is concerned, where elections will be held on October 13, there are primarily three issues that will determine the fate of the elections. First and foremost is the way people perceive the decade-old rule of NCP-Congress coalition. Second is the continuing incidents of suicide among farmers in spite of the Centre's relief measures. The third factor is price rise. And, of course there is the factor of delimitation. The other factors are not state-specific. Independent candidates and rebels in the fray can always play spoilsports.

While the state opposition is playing up the issue of farmers’ suicide, inflation and “misrule”, the Congress-NCP campaign is counting its “achievements”. “Anti-incumbency is a factor in any election. Our government has initiated several pro-people projects that will help us get back to power,” Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh told TSI.

BJP’s Shatrughan Sinha does not buy this. He told TSI that the popularity of the ruling coalition was on the wane. He cited inflation and local issues as the reasons. He insists that there is collective anger against the Centre and the state.

It is not that the Congress is sitting idle. After removing Vilasrao Deshmukh from power post the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the party has sent as many as 48 observers to conduct an internal survey. The survey results apparently predicted that price rise would be the biggest issue this time around and that it could decide the future of NCP-Congress coalition as well. It also maintained that repeated incidents of farmers’ suicides have led to deep-seated anger in Vidarbha and that the Congress would have to work very hard in this NCP bastion to salvage its position. That is precisely why the party has offered to provide power for irrigation and high-yield seeds at a nominal rate. The Congress has also vowed to make the government credit policy more flexible to suit the needs of the farmers.

The report had also suggested that there was a need to give more tickets to youngsters, keeping in mind the post-delimitation scenario though it would lead to rebellion. It added that to quell this, the party should be ready to shell out extra cash to counter the rebel candidates’ campaigns. Out of 174 seats that the Congress is contesting, it is facing competition from rebel candidates in as many as three dozens seats.

It is just not the Congress which is feeling the heat. Its ally, NCP, will have to take on the Shiv Sena, the BJP and the MNS in its western Maharashtra strongholds of Satara, Kolhapur and Pune. This is why two high-profile satraps, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Digvijay Singh, have been given charge of electoral management.
The BJP is in no good position either. In the parliamentary party meeting called to discuss poll strategy, several names were suggested for the post of electoral manager. However, Gopi Nath Munde, the opposition’s man for the CM’s job, has assumed the added responsibility of formulating electoral strategy and distributing tickets. The grapevine has that Munde interfered in seat allocation to Shiv Sena, giving them as many as 169 seats. Munde is of the belief that the next government will be of the Shiv Sena-BJP combine. He wants to keep the Shiv Sena in good humour. It is also being said that Munde is extra generous to rebels from every party as he is sure that their role will be crucial. Also, to gain foothold among the farmers, he has lent support to Sharad Joshi’s Shetkari Sangathan in as many as seven seats.

He has been smart enough to ignore Advani, presently a political untouchable, and has roped in Ananth Kumar to cut a speech album of Atal Bihari Vajpayee to be used during the campaign. He has also asked the Shiv Sena to refrain from making any xenophobic comment and to focus on positive aspects.

It is learnt that the Congress high command has asked a top leader to keep communication channels open with Raj Thakarey's MNS and Ramdas Athawale’s Republican Party, just in case of an unforeseen emergency situation.

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Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2009

An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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