May 13, 2006

Here are five

The left wins elections in WB (no surprise) and Kerala (mild surprise).

In TN, it's the DMK's turn to win. Consider -- 1991: Jayalalitha and AIADMK; 1996: Karunanidhi and DMK; 2001: Jayalalitha and AIADMK; 2006: by golly it is the DMK's turn.

The Congress emerges with the most seats in Assam and Pondicherry.

And Sonia Gandhi wins her seat with an even bigger margin than she did two years ago.

Message(s)? Lesson(s)? Anything(s)? Here are five.

  • Coalitions, here to stay. Going out on a limb dept: my faint-hearted prediction is that over the next few years, they'll make the transition from the Centre to more and more states. Thus Assam/Pondy/TN are just the early birds.

  • Considering the viciousness of their past relationship, Karunanidhi has made some astonishingly placatory noises towards Jayalalitha and the AIADMK. Does he mean them? Will she bite? Worth watching.

  • The more her dim critics underestimate Sonia G, the larger the victories she racks up. When will we recognize that this is a politician savvier than nearly every other in our landscape, that her voters don't give a damn about foreign origins and the like, that her voters see her as more sincere and effective than her opponents? Why is it that her opponents don't see that there are indeed real issues on which to tackle her politically, and get down to that hard job?

  • For all its faults, and there are plenty, and much as many of us would like to think so, the Congress isn't dead. Not even close.

  • Again much as many of us would like to think so, the left is not dead either. It may change and mutate, it may be as adept at electoral doings as every other participant in our political landscape , and it ain't dead by a long shot.

    And purely for the health of Indian democracy, three cheers for those last two points.

    Hell, three cheers for all five.
  • 32 comments:

    Vishnu said...

    Dilip, no surprise in Kerala too. No matter what, the UDF (United Democratic Front) know that they are going to be in power in five years. Maybe they even have a list of ministers for their 2011 cabinet.

    Anonymous said...

    Dilip:

    And

    (a)how many points for imposing an election on Rae Baerilly? I mean quit two months ago and get elected back again.
    I fail to see the supereme "sacrifice".

    (b) how many points for imposing elections in Bihar last year (the second time around) in Nov?

    (c) how many points for trying backdoor (failed) shennanigans in Jarkhand last year?

    (d) how many points for getting that Rane goon from Shiv Sena to Cong and whitewashing him with secularism overnight?

    (e) how many points for Election Commission indicting the current HRD minister?

    Come Dilip, don't make your bias that obivious. You disappoint seculars. Care to list Sonia's achievements in past two years at center?



    Haven't you realized it yet that even a dog (could be even of foreign origin like Pom or Doberman or Alsastian etc) from Gandhi/Nehru family can win elections with thumping margins (of course if the dog's named Jawaharlal, they'll issue a fatwa like they did on Rushdie).

    No doubt standards of journalism is pretty damn low. Now, even blogs are headed south :(

    BTW on to fatwas, any comments on that Mumbai corporator Nicholas Almeida who's put a supari on Dan Brown? Or you haven't heard about it?

    Indian said...

    how many points for imposing elections in Bihar last year (the second time around) in Nov?
    -No points here. Dilip did not raise 3 cheers to Bihar voting out the non-performing Lalu Prasad Yadav.

    No detailing why Sonia's election was held in the first place. First the targetting of Jaya Bacchan by her courtiers and then the same thing rebounding on her.

    Come Dilip, don't make your bias that obivious. You disappoint seculars.
    -He is not disappointing seculars. Just those people who believed he was a sincere and objective jounalist. Seculars are known for double standards.

    Why is it that her opponents don't see that there are indeed real issues on which to tackle her politically
    -- Dilip is right here. The sheer ineptitude of this regime and the non-performance of Mr Singhs cabinet barring a couple of ministers was enough ammunition for the opponents and they do not use this to the maximum.

    For all its faults, and there are plenty, and much as many of us would like to think so, the Congress isn't dead
    - I doubt anybody really wanted it to die. People are ok with Dr Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram.

    It may change and mutate, it may be as adept at electoral doings as every other participant in our political landscape
    -The left is still winning only in their traditional strongholds. They have not made their prescence felt anywhere else. If they change, we should cheer. Bu their agenda seems the same. Working for China and against India's interests.

    And purely for the health of Indian democracy, three cheers for those last two points.
    -- Dilip never cheered when Modi and other NDA parties won. Is that not healthy for Indian democracy?

    BTW on to fatwas, any comments on that Mumbai corporator Nicholas Almeida who's put a supari on Dan Brown? Or you haven't heard about it
    -- No as how there was total silence from him and his co-bloggers at the other India regarding the Mau riots, Varanasi blasts, the lucknow killings the recent J&K killings. Even the unearthing of plans to blow up the Ellora caves has so far not gotten any response from our seculars -Uma, Anand etc..

    Ravikiran said...

    What you are saying now about Sonia Gandhi, you used to say about Lalu Yadav before he lost. Is that your boilerplate defence for defending indefensible politicians?

    Umesh Patil said...

    - Dilip is right to point the smartness of Sonia. She is a good leader tending to listen to public at large and making attempts to tailor policy accordingly. Indeed that is the sign of a good leader.

    - Left shines, at least in restricted manner, is a fact. Congress is not dead is true. But Congress does not inspire people. What one can say about Congress is, there is at least one political force people can bank on if everything else fails.

    - It will be wrong to read much in these assembly elections. For example in TN, the voting percentage difference is so small that a small factor here and there makes huge difference. If India were to adopt proportional representation system, DMK and AIADMK will be locked perpetually.

    - The question to ask is how come America's perceived anti-Islam policies played such a big role in Kerala? Will it happen in future too? Are we talking Globalized India here? And at the same time how come Sri Lanka's rising Civil War with Tamil Tigers did not figure much in the election? What is going on?

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    What you are saying now about Sonia Gandhi, you used to say about Lalu Yadav before he lost.

    You're wise to figure that out.

    Is that your boilerplate defence for defending indefensible politicians?

    You construe what I wrote about Sonia as a "defence", likewise with Lalu? Really?

    Both Lalu and Sonia are no more defensible or not than any other politician we have. They know how irrelevant most of the criticism they get is at the polling booth. (Though Lalu's luck finally ran out at the last election). That's why they are this country's savviest politicians. While you wisely throw about words like "indefensible", they win. Simple.

    It's what I meant by dim critics underestimating her (and him). I should have known they'd turn up here as well.

    Umesh, thanks. Sonia's strongest political trait, in my opinion, is her ability to ignore the criticism and demonstrate that it is meaningless to her voters as well.

    Ravikiran said...

    You may not realise this, but I knew even before you commented that your reply would be a quibble on the meaning of "defence"

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    You may not realise this, but I knew even before you commented that your reply would be a quibble on the meaning of "defence"

    You're right, as always. Of course I didn't realize it.

    Because I'm looking at 13 lines that I wrote in reply, of which two are concerned with the word "defence", and hello, how could I ever have figured out that those two would overwhelm the other 11 and come to characterize the entire reply as a "quibble on the meaning of "defence"?

    So yes, you're wise to have known in advance.

    And in any case, Sonia still ignores quibbles and replies and your advance knowledge: she just wins. Why not apply your prescience to tackling that?

    Ravikiran said...

    I take it that if her government falls mid-stream or if she loses the next elections, it will be "her luck ran out" rather than conceding any error in your analysis.

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    ...conceding any error in your analysis.

    "Analysis"? I offer my opinion that Sonia is the savviest politician in the country, and that qualifies as "analysis"?

    Savvy politicians can lose elections too, as Lalu did. Or they can lose their savviness, maybe that's what happened to Lalu. Or people can tire of them, maybe that's what happened to Lalu.

    All of the above can happen to Sonia too. I'm unable to see what concession has to do with any of this.

    But of course, you have already divined before I wrote this that I would "quibble on the meaning of "analysis"".

    Shashikant said...

    How can Congress be dead as long as there is somebody with last name "Gandhi" heading the party?

    Indian said...

    Both Lalu and Sonia are no more defensible or not than any other politician we have. They know how irrelevant most of the criticism they get is at the polling booth.
    --Advani and Vajpayee also won elections earlier, but Dilip was criticizing them non-stop during their tenure. He even accused them and the BJP of crimes they were not guilty of.

    (Though Lalu's luck finally ran out at the last election).
    -Using the same logic, can we also assume that the NDA's 'luck ran out' during the last elections and they were not voted out? Why then did you thank the voter for having spared the country 5 more years?
    So Lalu was plain unlucky and the voters of Bihar are not to be thanked for his removal?

    'Why is it that her opponents don't see that there are indeed real issues on which to tackle her politically, and get down to that hard job?'
    Yes - I admit the opponents were not particularly bright. I can think of more than 2 dozen issues -the principal one being the non-governance we have been subjected to for the past 2 years. Can you mention any?

    Nikhil said...

    The question to ask is how come America's perceived anti-Islam policies played such a big role in Kerala? Will it happen in future too?
    Yes this is particularly worrying. I had mentioned on another blog that the left and Mulayam were behaving irresponsibly during the Bush visit. This report is even more worrying:
    http://indianexpress.com/story/4272.html

    The last time this happened was during the Khilafat movement and the resulting Moplah rebellion. Thereafter culminating in partition. Are we going to see the same thing now? No idea at present. Unless the secular essay competition winners can shed some light on this.

    Anirudh said...

    Ravikiran,

    I've been reading your blog for a while and it's mostly sensible. Why this sudden senseless attack on Dilip?

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    Advani and Vajpayee also won elections earlier, but Dilip was criticizing them non-stop during their tenure.

    True. I believe Vajpayee was the worst PM we have suffered, and we have suffered some pretty dreadful ones (Gowda, Charan Singh, Chandra Shekhar, Indira come to mind).

    Using the same logic, can we also assume that the NDA's 'luck ran out' during the last elections and they were not voted out?

    The "same logic"? Well, I cannot see logic here. The NDA's luck did run out, and they did get voted out. Remember?

    Why then did you thank the voter for having spared the country 5 more years?

    Allow me to repeat: I believe Vajpayee was the worst PM we have suffered.

    So Lalu was plain unlucky and the voters of Bihar are not to be thanked for his removal?

    I thank the voters of Bihar every day that they finally rid themselves of Lalu. That does not lessen my impression of him as a shrewd and savvy politician.

    Yazad Jal said...

    Actually these elections left me cold. The results are rather status quo. The left won in it's bastions. TN / Kerela had their periodic shifts from one coalition to another. So what's new? Allow me to add two points

    1. The real test for the left will be in areas where their influence has been waning. E.g. will they regain political space in Mumbai / Maharashtra where they were once strong? (I doubt it)

    2. Don't count out the BJP. These were their weakest states (except Assam) and admittedly they did poorly. But it's only status quo. They haven't lost out in areas where they have influence.

    Nikhil said...

    Yazad-Further to your comments:

    1. The real test for the left will be in areas where their influence has been waning.
    -- The left has not made any headway anywhere.

    2. Don't count out the BJP. These were their weakest states (except Assam) and admittedly they did poorly.
    - No other party is a force in TN except for the DMK/ADMK. Even the congress is nowhere in the picture.

    3. The left win in Kerala is a bit disturbing. First - they will continue to create trouble for the govt. Second is the reason that I mentioned earlier - supping with fundamentalist devils.
    - Guess they have a death wish. Remember how Dr Najibullah was tortured by the Taliban. All the folks aho railed against me on another blog when I brought this up, please speak up.

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    Yazad, I'm sorry you're feeling cold.

    There's more to this if you're a political junkie (which I unashamedly am).

    In TN it wasn't quite the dramatic shift of previous elections. The DMK did not get enough seats on its own, which is a surprise. They have to form a coalition Govt. Thus my point about coalitions crossing over from Centre to states. To my knowledge TN has never had a coalition govt.

    In TN, what prompted Karunanidhi to reach out to reconcile with JJ? The two parties' history is one of antagonism even before KK and JJ. What's prompted this, an is it genuine and what will come of it?

    Much as I find the BJP repellent, in no way would I count them out, nor even want that to happen. Any democracy needs a strong opposition.

    If the "real test" for the Left is in "areas where their influence has been waning", why isn't the "real test" for the BJP in "their weakest states"? (Same question applies to your use of "its bastions" and "areas where they have influence").

    Nikhil: The left has not made any headway anywhere.

    If you choose to see it that way. Sounds like wishful thinking to me.

    Anirudh: thanks, but this is hardly an attack. This is just the usual grab-bag of content-free one-liners.

    Anonymous said...

    >>Allow me to repeat: I believe Vajpayee was the worst PM we have suffered.


    "WE" who's "we"?
    The gaggle you led when you invited foreign invasion of India to oust Vajpayee?

    Nikhil said...

    Error in my statement:
    The left has not made any headway anywhere.
    Please read this as:
    The left has not made any headway anywhere other than their traditional strongholds - Kerala & WB - Just confirming what Yazad said. In Kerala - if the link is to be believed, they seem to be supping with the devils - far more dangerous than what Congress and BJP have done so far.
    Wanted yours/ Yazad's opinion on this.

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    Nikhil, from where I'm sitting, both the Congress and BJP have supped with plenty of devils that have demonstrably caused this country far more damage than the spectre you see in Kerala. What is the spectre in Kerala that is comparable to the slaughter of ordinary Indians in Delhi in 1984, in Bombay in 1992-93, in Gujarat in 2002?

    The worst terrorists live among us. Until we are willing to acknowledge that, my belief is that we will never defeat terrorism of any kind.

    Yazad Jal said...

    Hey Dilip

    I'm quiet the political junkie (election results junkie as well). I remember bunking classes to watch Prannoy Roy. I never bunked classes for cricket matches, but did so for Roy's election analysis with Vinod Dua!!

    I don't think these elections were a test for the BJP because they'd given up except for a semblance of a fight in Assam. And none of it's "bastions" went to the polls this time.

    MK / JJ "reconciliation" is something new. Let's see what comes out of it.

    paraffin said...

    What is the spectre in Kerala that is comparable to the slaughter of ordinary Indians in Delhi in 1984, in Bombay in 1992-93, in Gujarat in 2002?

    This sounds a lot like the standard defence of extermism-apologists. Modi was bad? Look at tytler. tytler was bad? look at Modi. Hitler was bad? look at Stalin. Stalin was bad? look at Hitler.

    Disappointed to see this defence of extremism (no matter what its scale) from an otherwise sensible writer like you.

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    Paraffin (nice name): many apologies for disappointing you.

    I was reacting to a statement about the left "supping with the devil" in Kerala, "far more dangerous" than the Congress and BJP. I'm asking, what's happening in Kerala that's "far more dangerous" than what the Congress and BJP have done to us? Is this not a legit question?

    Yazad, do find and read Yashwant Sinha's recent article in tribute to Pramod Mahajan, which spoke a lot about their campaigning in Assam. "Semblance" is not the word that comes to mind.

    Nikhil said...

    Dilip
    If you read all my comments, I was specifically referring to the fact of a pan-islamic cause being an assembly election issue. This was done by a national mainstream party. When was the last time we had a pan-islamic issue thrust into our political discussions. Does the Khilafat movement, Moplah rebellion and subsequent partition ring a bell?
    Not to absolve the congress of 1984 or BJP for the Babri Masjid demolition.
    There are enough tensions because of local issues. Now are we going to see riots for anything happening in Bosnia, West Bank, Iraq and the like?
    Ultimately dont all these problems simply have their roots in some people being made to feel their religious identity is more important than their national identity.
    Is it not necessary to eliminate the core cause?
    Are we going to spend the rest of the century dousing out any communal riots that may occur?

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    Nikhil: Ultimately dont all these problems simply have their roots in some people being made to feel their religious identity is more important than their national identity.

    True, though I would substitute "human" for "national".

    are we going to see riots for anything happening in Bosnia, West Bank, Iraq and the like?

    It wouldn't surprise me. The prospect doesn't alarm me any more, or less, than riots over local issues do.

    Are we going to spend the rest of the century dousing out any communal riots that may occur?

    I suspect we are. Because too many of us take riots too lightly, and too many of us find political benefit in them.

    Anonymous said...

    are we going to see riots for anything happening in Bosnia, West Bank, Iraq and the like?

    It wouldn't surprise me. The prospect doesn't alarm me any more, or less, than riots over local issues do.

    Of course it would'nt. We all know 'which community' will start the riots and who will be the victims? But then where have we ever heard Dilip feeling bad for Hindu victims?
    Dilip - thanks for stating your anti-hindu bias so openly.
    so good for China and Pakistan to see a prominent journalist doing some very good work.

    Nikhil said...

    Because too many of us take riots too lightly, and too many of us find political benefit in them.

    Sorry for digressing from the main discussion. But your statement is curious. When you say 'too many' what number among this 1 billion is too many. The only people who find political benefit are the politicians (many of them - not all). Is this number 'too many'.
    What are you benchmarking against? Do you have any country in mind?
    Just curious to know.

    Unknown Indian said...

    Three cheers for the left winning. And Vajpayee is the worst PM ever. I am truly amazed. Two remarks that
    I find remarkably ridiculous coming from you.

    Communism is the best recipe for perpetuation of poverty. I can't imagine how despite all the evidence, people like you can fail to see that.

    On comments about the left supping with the devil, 2 pts

    1) I agree that when it comes to communalism, all parties are equally bad. But that makes your comment on Vajpayee being the worst PM ever even more inexplicable. India has not progressed more based on any objective measure than under Vajpayee. The Gujarat riots were in my view the only serious blot on his regime.

    2.) Further, for others who commented on the left supping with the devil - sorry, but the left is the devil. Communist regimes have killed 5 times as many people in the 20th century as fascist regimes. Islamic fundamentalists are amateurs at murder compared to the left.

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    Communist regimes have killed 5 times as many people in the 20th century as fascist regimes.

    So? When a right-leaning man -- say George W Bush -- becomes Prez of the USA, do we immediately equate his Presidency to Hitler and his fascists? In much the same way, it's lazy thinking to equate left-leaning parties/regimes to murderous maniacs like Stalin and Mao.

    In other words, it's lazy thinking to assume that anyone you cannot agree with is automatically on the extreme opposite end of the spectrum that's occupied by mass-murderers.

    Nikhil said...

    Unknown Indian is right. There may be left leaning liberal parties as Social Democrats in Europe or even the labor party before Tony Blair who were left leaning, but were also democratic. But communist regimes have always indulged in thugggery, killings, butchery- look at Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Enver Hoxha and even the Khmer Rouge.
    for Unknown Indian - If you are looking at Islamist terrorists, then your statement may be true. but add up the 1971 Bangladesh genocide committed by Pakistan, then it is almost a tie. Do not have the exact numbers though for comparison - just a rough estimate.
    Dilip - curious why I am seeing the blog tilting leftwards the past few days.

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    Dilip - curious why I am seeing the blog tilting leftwards the past few days.

    Possibly because you're tilting right. Straighten up, then look at your screen.