(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
May 24, 2009
The Elections And After
THE results of the Lok Sabha elections have cleared the way for the Congress-led alliance to form the government once again. The Congress party has won 205 seats and along with its pre-poll allies, it has got 262 seats. The Congress has increased its strength by 61 seats compared to last time. With the support of its former allies in the UPA, the Congress is comfortably placed to form the government. The BJP and its allies have been defeated quite decisively as this is the second successive time that they have failed to come to power. The BJP has got 116 seats, 22 less than last time, while the NDA has got 159 seats which is 18 seats less than last time. The parties which came together in the non-Congress, non-BJP combination got 78 seats.
is the meaning of
this verdict? How is it to be interpreted? The first point to be noted
while there has been a pro-Congress trend in some parts of the country,
overall, there is no big shift in favour of the Congress. In terms of
share, the Congress has got just about 2 per cent more than in 2004.
to the Election Commission's figures, the Congress party has got 28.55
of the vote. In 2004, it had got 26.53
per cent. The Congress made big gains in Kerala and Rajasthan and
position in Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and
Another feature is that while Congress gained 2 per cent, the BJP lost around 3 per cent. The loss of the BJP has gone to the Congress but the combined percentage of vote of both parties stands more or less as it was in 2004. In 2004, the two parties combined got 48.69 per cent of the vote and in 2009 it stands at over one per cent less at 47.35 per cent. This is at a time when the Congress and the BJP fought more seats than in 2004. This is particularly significant since it shows no reversal in the long term decline of the two parties. The non-Congress, non-BJP parties continue to have more than 50 per cent share of the vote.
second point to note
in interpreting the verdict is the failure of the BJP and its political
platform. The people have rejected the BJP's claim of providing good
and defending national security. What they saw in the election campaign
recurrence of communal rhetoric and the ingrained penchant for
all problems including terrorism. Varun Gandhi's virulent hate speeches
eulogising of Narendra Modi as the future leader symbolised this
campaign. The failure to capitalise on a
host of issues
such as price rise, unemployment and the continuing agrarian distress
major opposition party underlines the depth of the rejection of the BJP. The only NDA partner to do well was the JD(U)
Another pointer to the rejection of the BJP comes from Orissa. The BJD, which broke from the BJP just two months before the election, won a spectacular victory getting 103 of the 145 seats in the assembly. In the 2004 assembly election, the BJD-BJP alliance won 93 seats. Thus, the BJD improved its performance after breaking with the BJP.
The third point to understand the verdict is that despite the neo-liberal predilections of the Congress-led government, some of the measures adopted have had a positive impact on the people. These are the NREGA which now extends to the entire country, the Tribal Forest Rights Act and the increase in the minimum support price for rice and wheat, the loan waiver scheme for farmers and some such measures, many of which were brought under the pressure of the Left parties. Despite the agrarian crisis, such measures provided some relief to the rural people. Along with this should be seen the measures taken by some of the state governments such as the Rs 2 per kg of rice scheme in Andhra Pradesh and the Re 1 per kg scheme in Tamilnadu and other social welfare measures. In Orissa too, the Rs 2 per kg of rice bolstered the support for the Navin Patnaik government. At the same time, the fact that four years of high growth of the GDP did not lead to redistribution of resources and incomes and instead sharply increased economic inequalities did play a role in restricting the Congress's capacity to expand its popular base.
The Congress gained more support amongst the minorities who were keen to ensure that the BJP does not make a come back. The non-Congress, non-BJP parties were not seen as a viable alternative in most parts of the country and this accentuated the shift in minority support to the Congress.
The Congress party has also benefited from the concern of the people that the country should face unitedly the threat of terrorism and their fear that communalism can only aggravate the situation.
CPI(M) and the Left
have suffered a serious setback with the losses in
the discussions held
in the Polit Bureau, there was a preliminary review of the Party's
forge a non-Congress, non-BJP alliance and present it as an electoral
alternative. The central committee, in
its meeting held in
There have been two consequences of the projection of a third front. Firstly, the BJP-led NDA was adversely affected by the formation of a non-Congress secular combination. The BJP and the NDA's tally has come down since they were denied any significant ally in the states of Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. The second point to be noted is that the secular non-Congress combination has got 21 per cent of the vote and this shows the potential for building up a third alternative on the lines suggested by the CPI(M) in its Party Congress. That is, an alternative which is not merely an electoral alliance but a coming together of the parties and forces on a common platform through movements and struggles for alternative policies distinct from that of the Congress and the BJP.
disturbing feature of
this Lok Sabha election was the use of money on a scale not seen before. States like Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh and
Karnataka saw an unprecedented use of illegal money.
The second edition of the Manmohan Singh government will be taking office at a time when the global economic crisis has had its impact on the Indian economy. There is large-scale loss of jobs, closure of thousands of small and medium units and the continuing agrarian distress among the rural poor. The CPI(M), along with the Left parties, will be vigilant in defending the interests of the people and opposing neo-liberal measures which will only worsen the plight of the people. At the same time, the Party will continue to champion the need for an independent foreign policy, protection of economic sovereignty and strengthening of secularism. The CPI(M) will work to strengthen the unity of the Left parties. It will launch united actions and cooperate with the non-Congress secular parties on people's issues.
Those anti-Communist quarters who have been rejoicing at the setbacks suffered by the Left and have written the epitaph of the CPI(M) will be proved completely wrong. The CPI(M) had in the past overcome many difficult periods by steadfastly identifying with the cause of the working people and uncompromisingly struggling against the reactionary forces, communalism and imperialism. The lessons learnt from this electoral defeat will only strengthen the resolve of the Party to wage this struggle with renewed determination.