Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gains, Losses of Major Political Parties in Byelections

The Samajwadi Party (SP) has been in the news for the last two days. The issue of its legislator Abu Azim Azmi taking oath in Hindi was in the news when viewers throughout the country saw the hooliganism indulged in by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). However, the incident proved a blessing in disguise for the SP, which rose in stature in a day, but the very next day, a setback brought it back in news yet again. The news was that the Ferozabad parliamentary constituency has slipped out of SP's hands with its strong candidate Dimple Yadav's defeat in the byelection held there.

Surprising Results
Byelections were held last week for some seats in various state assemblies and for the Ferozabad parliamentary constituency. The results of these elections are extremely surprising in some states, but the most amazing result was from Ferozabad where the Congress candidate Raj Babbar, a film actor-turned politician, defeated SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's daughter-in-law by a margin of more than 85,000 votes.

The seat had become a prestige issue for SP leader Mulayam Singh, who had put in all his might there. His son, Nikhilesh Yadav, vacated the seat because he had contested from two seats (Kannauj and Ferozabad) and had won from both. Later, he resigned from Ferozabad.

Earlier, Raj Babbar had been defeated in the parliamentary election for the Fatehpur Sikri seat. Since Raj Babbar has snatched the Ferozabad seat from the SP, it has given a double jolt to Mulayam Singh because Raj Babbar had won from Agra earlier also as a SP member. Babbar left the SP when differences between him and other members erupted and joined the Congress.

Tension Between SP and Congress
One of the reasons of tension between the SP and the Congress was the Congress granting a ticket to Raj Babbar to contest the election, and the Ferozabad seat had become a prestige issue for both parties. To establish its presence in the constituency, the Congress had sent its young and popular leader, Rahul Gandhi to campaign for Raj Babbar.

Dimple Yadav's huband Akhilesh Yadav also went all out to support his party and wife. Despite that, the Congress emerged victorious with a huge margin. It is a matter of concern for the SP as to how this seat, considered to be a party stronghold, slipped out of its hands. Is the specter of Kalyan Singh continuing to follow it even now? One wonders why the image of the iron man of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh, is receiving a beating. Is the leader, considered to be the Messiah of minorities and farmers, losing his identity, or is the Congress gradually emerging like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes in the state and elsewhere?

Internal Dissension Within BJP
Barring Ferozabad, if one looks at the situation in Uttar Pradesh, one would find an important and significant difference. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the SP gained nothing but frustration in all the 11 assembly seats where byelections were held. A constant propaganda against the Bahujan Samaj Party was being carried out. The party was losing its sheen and getting unpopular in the state. Yet, by securing eight out of 11 seats, the party has manifested its strength in the state.

The internal dissension within the BJP has made it lose the Lucknow (West) seat where Lalji Tondon was the undisputed leader for the last several decades. Mulayam Singh has not won even a single seat. Also, seats held by the SP earlier have slipped out of it. The BJP would have to ponder why the sun of secularism is turning the drying leaves of its lotus (election symbol) into ashes.

In Kerala and West Bengal, the Left sees its defeated faces in the mirror by these results. In Kerala, the Congress has given a huge jolt to the Left Front by winning all the three seats for which byelection were held. It may be mentioned that the Left Front is ruling in the state. The Sangh Parivar (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its allies) had been carrying out a nefarious propaganda against Muslims in the state. Muslims there felt that the ruling front was doing nothing against that propaganda. Muslim youth's harassment on the pretext of "Love Jihad" has come out as the final verdict against the Left.

Advantage for Trinamool Congress
Mamta Bannerjee with her spell has badly mauled the Left Front in West Bengal. There, she assiduously campaigned to attract minorities to her party, the Trinamool Congress, proving false the Left's slogan of being pro-minority.

By joining hands with the Congress, she displayed great sagacity and caused the lights of the Reds to go off. She won eight out of 10 seats there. She won the hearts of minorities by allowing the use of Urdu language and other regional languages in railway recruitment examinations. She certainly benefited from it.

There is good news for the BJP also, which won one seat each in Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, and Rajasthan. This provided great solace to the party. Yet, BJP leaders must have felt the wave of resentment against the saffron brigade simmering among the masses too.

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