Mixed results for Congress
The current governing party of India, the Indian National Congress faced mixed results in the five state elections which were counted yesterday (Friday 13th May).
In Assam, where the state assembly has 126 seats, Congress improved their standing from 71 seats in 2006 to 74 seats today. The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) took 10 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took 4 seats and there were 36 others. Congress has held Assam, with one or two short exceptions, since independence in 1947.
In Kerala, where the state assembly has 140 seats, the Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF) regained control. The UDF increased their tally of seats from 40 in 2006 to 72 yesterday. The Left Democratic Front which has ruled Kerala since 2006 held on to 68 seats, down from 99. Although a good result, this was not seen as a ringing endorsement of Congress.
In Tamil Nadu, the 234 seat assembly was won by the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) who took 204 seats against the Congress backed Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) who took just 30 seats. Leader of the AIADMK, Ms. J. Jayalalithaa had played hard on a corruption scandal around 2G spectrum allocation which may have been a factor in their win, although Indian voters are usually pretty hardened to corruption in Indian politics. Nevertheless the result was a setback for Congress.
In West Bengal the Trinamool Congress (TMC) provided the largest upset. The TMC overturned 34 years of communist rule in the 294 seat assembly by taking 225 seats to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M) led Left Front’s 63 seats. The leader of the TMC, Mamata Banerjee is also India’s railways minister and is allied to Congress.
In Pondicherry the 30 seat assembly was captured from Congress by an ex Congress former chief minister who set up his party on the eve of the election. The All India NR Congress (AINRC) in alliance with the AIADMK took 20 seats, reducing Congress and its allies to just 9 seats.
As midterm elections Congress can take some comfort from these results, but will be disappointed with Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. Expect to see a major Cabinet reshuffle very soon by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.