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Lok Sabha Elections-2009, Congress Sweeps to Biggest Victory Since 1991

Lok Sabha Elections-2009, Congress Sweeps to Biggest Victory Since 1991

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Published by Abhijit Jadhav

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Published by: Abhijit Jadhav on Sep 23, 2009
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The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) raced to an unexpected decisive victory in May 2009, in what was billed as one of the most unpredictableLok Sabha elections. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh scripted history by becoming the first Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru to come back to power after completing a full term in office.
Congress did exceptionally well on its own as it crossed the 200 mark while theincumbent ruling combine was comfortably placed at over 250 in the 545-
member Lok Sabha. The UPA’s estranged allies like the Left parties, Lalu PrasadYadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party
(LJP) were humbled even as the main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) finished at a low of 112 seats.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s personal image as a man of learning andintegrity and the electorate’s preference for stability proved to be key factors in
these elections.The fear of a fractured mandate with disparate small political parties calling theshots at the Centre also seemed to have scared the electorate, which showed apreference for national parties, although nobody is writing off the regionalparties.
party’s surprise comeback in Uttar Pradesh with 21 seats, where the
Congress has been in the wilderness for over two decades, proved to be a realmorale booster for the grand old party. What was even more heartening for theCongress was that the party is gradually regaining its old base with the minoritiesand the upper castes veering towards it. The Uttar Pradesh performance was alsoa personal victory for Rahul Gandhi, who had argued that instead of going in foran unequal alliance, the Congress should fight on its own.In contrast to the Congress, the BJP suffered serious reverses as its tallyplummeted from 138 to 112 seats. It could hold on to its own only in Chhattisgarhand improved in Karnataka.Similarly, the DMK-Congress combine managed to minimize its losses in TamilNadu where the rival Jayalalitha-led AIADMK front was projected to sweep thepolls, banking on the emotive Sri Lankan Tamils issue.
It was part of Rahul Gandhi’s two
-pronged strategy of handpicking youth andputting them in the fray in several constituencies across the country that paid off rich dividends. Inducting youth was seen as a follow-up of his father Rajiv
Gandhi’s initiative in 1980s when he had started rebuilding his own team after
Indira Gandhi died in 1984.Indian democracy has surprised many. In last elections, no one had thought aCongress-led UPA would emerge winners. It did. This time, many said Congress
would be the single-largest party and UPA the top coalition, but few imaginedCongress would retain office with 201 seats
the highest any single party has gotin 25 years.This election was supposed to be without any national issue. The Indian voter,however, had different ideas
he voted with his feet for a coherent and stablegovernment. Many commentators have called this election a return of nationalparties
no doubt, on the basis of the stronger performance of Congress and BJP.But that would be misreading the election. While in UP, for instance, votersseemed to have viewed national parties with favour, the BSP is still the mainopponent for all parties in the State, having emerging as either the winner orrunner-up in 68 of the 80 seats.But more than that, there is another statistic that is more telling. The combinedstrength of all national parties
Congress, BJP and the Left
remains the same inthis election as it was the last time. In 2004, these national parties had acombined tally of 345 seats; this time they have a tally of 344. In other words,some regional parties might have lost, but some have gained.For the BJP, the election has been something of a disaster with Narendra Modi
being touted as L.K. Advani’s successor right in the middle of the poll campaign,and Varun Gandhi usurping the party’s agenda with his personal positioningexercise as UP’s
Modi. At the end of it, the BJP was left with a negative campaignand could hardly convey to the electorate what it would bring to the table.

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