2009 Elections- Relieved but not enthused

I am relieved that the UPA is back, and that the NDA has slightly declined. This is, however, not to say that one is enthused. The loss of the Left, BSP and the Lalu Janata Dal means that the UPA/INC’s gain has been mainly at the expense of the secular groups that have supported it anyway. The Left’s loss also means that there is no major opposition to the neo- liberal model expounded by Manmohan Singh, at least at the national level. It leaves the field open for the Congress’s autocratic ways. It needs to be remembered that the Congress party has fielded a record number of crorepatis and criminals in the 2009 general elections.

One will have to wait for some time to understand the specific reasons for the results that have astounded the UPA and the INC itself. My own take is that the recession has helped the UPA government. During times of recession and external threats like the Mumbai attack, people tend to stand by the ruling group. In times of rapid economic growth, high inflation and increasing disparities, the mood tends to be anti- establishment (or anti- incumbency). This is the first time since neo- liberal reforms were kicked off that a ruling party has been re- elected. The NREGA and the relative rural focus (even if it is the corruption/ subsidies formula as in Andhra Pradesh) also seem to have been factors in the revival of the INC.

The BSP’s consolidation over the years has also meant that the INC has become slightly more sensitive to Dalit voters. Even the symbolic display of solidarity like in the case of Rahul Gandhi going out and staying with dalit families has had some effect, as has his attempts at rejuvenating the INC in UP. The Left’s attempts to force feed industrialization in West Bengal have backfired.

The greatest threat for the next five years now are the INC and its economic policies. A weak INC and a strengthened UPA+Left+BSP would have been a better combination providing a counterweight of checks and balances. With the INC having hijacked the Jana Sangh’s economic policies since 1991, and with major losses for the Left, no major opposition to them, it could mean a return to right wing jingoism on the part of the INC/UPA.

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4 thoughts on “2009 Elections- Relieved but not enthused

  1. Ishwar dost

    i agree with your assessment and also share the joy and the grief. Do you really think that left support to UPA govt have succeded in cheching neo-leberalism? Or it provides the legitimacy to a neo-liberal government and thus blunts anti-neo-liberal struggle.
    I see ur comment in Kafila and expecting more from you on the dillemmas of Indian left.

    1. In a way it is good to see the CPM take a beating. One hopes that the official left takes a better cognizance of the INC and its inherent role in Indian politics. I believe only a ‘unity and struggle’ between the INC/left/BSP provides a Center- Left alternative. Its not easy, of course.

      The support of the Left in the last elections did put some brakes on the full throttle neo- liberalism of the MMS-Chidu-Montek troika, especially in the finance sector. One can gauge the elation of these sections very clearly on the stock market today- with trading halted for the day after sensex broke the upper limit in the early hours of the day.

  2. Thanks for this cartoon. It articulates the unease and dismay I have been feeling after reading the newspaper reports about candidates’ wealth declarations. How do oeople make so much money? For instance Rahul Gandhi, how was there such an increase in his wealth between 2004 and 2009? He is a full-time politician, so how exactly does this happen? Its the big money machine, with wealth granering more wealth, and political influence helping significantly. The new law makers need to take serious cognizance of this, or else people at large will begin to feel that parliament has nothing to do with them, its just another chamber of commerce.

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