India has Voted

Apr 7th, 2009 | By | Category: Articles, Still Fresh
The results of the Indian General Elections, 2009 are out. Most pundits, and exit polls, had predicted a hung assembly for India, with the UPA(United Progressive Alliance) gaining a slight edge over the NDA(National Democratic Alliance). But, on the morning of May 16, when the results began to come in, the whole country was in for a surprise. For some it was a pleasant one, while for others it came as a bitter pill; a pill that had to be swallowed regardless.In the Indian system any party needs around 272 seats to be able to form a Government. It was expected that no party, or alliance, would be able to garner that magical number on its own. This meant that regional parties could play a major role in deciding who gets to be India’s Prime Minister. Not unexpectedly, the hopes of a hung parliament had increased the number of contenders for India’s top post. The contenders were so confident of their chances that they did not shy away from making a public claim of their desire to don the mantle of Prime Minister of India.

But, that was not to be. India voted and gave a clear mandate to UPA to rule for another five years. The final result tally looked something like this:

UPA –        262
NDA –        160
3rd Front – 79
4th Front – 28
Others –     14

(For detailed party-wise and state wise results, and to view the list of winners, visit http://eci.nic.in/results )

Why did the UPA win?

First and foremost, the credit must go to Mr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India. The soft-spoken man came at the helm of affairs when the Congress party was lacking a leader. He was an unsung, and an unlikely, hero. An economist by profession, he was the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India from 1982 to 1985, and held the post of the Finance Minister of India from 1991 to 1996. When he took over the reins of the Indian Government, very few people believed in him but he proved the critics wrong, and turned out to be an efficient leader. One of his achievements was the signing of the Nuclear agreement with the USA despite stiff opposition from the Left parties, which constituted a part of the government. Other schemes like National Rural Employment Guarantee Act -2005, loan waivers to farmers etc. must have helped in wooing the rural voters.

The second reason could be the grass root level campaigning by Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Rahul’s role seems to be most important in Uttar Pradesh, where Congress emerged as the second largest party. It is said in political circles that any party that can win UP, can hope to win India. Congress had been performing poorly in UP for the last few elections, and, as a result, it was suffering on the national level too. This times things changed.

The third reason could have been the economic recession. Everyone knew that India needed a stable government at the centre, especially in the present times. The economies all around the world have hit their bottoms, and every country is trying its best to overcome these hard times. A fragmented mandate would have meant undue dilly-dallying in decision making, resulting in an economic mess. People might have thought that Dr. Manmohan Singh, being an economist, is better equipped to deal with the situation than his counterparts in the opposing parties.

There could be many other reasons like lack of credible leadership in the BJP (Bhartiya Janta Party), no major election issues with any party, low voter turn-out, etc. that might have resulted in an outcome that was contrary to the expectation of most people. Hindsight, as they say is 20/20, and one could go on and on with reasons why Congress did well and BJP did not.

What it means for India?

The elections results were like a shot in the arm for the Indian markets. On Monday, when the markets opened, they had to be closed as, in an unprecedented manner, the markets hit the upper circuit breakers twice in one day. A stable government at the centre means that decisions regarding liberalization of the economy can be taken without worrying about the Left parties pulling the rug from under the government’s feet. The markets understand and appreciate this fact. But, how the markets operate in the days to come remains to be seen.

Another important outcome of the elections is that the era of coalitions, so loudly hailed a decade ago, might have come to an end. The era of coalitions, not all bad, led to the rise of many regional parties that began to see a greater role for themselves at the national level. However, once these parties came on the national scene, they found it hard to let go of their regional interests. This was hampering the growth of the nation as a whole. This time, the regional parties have been relegated to the background. These parties have an important role to play in their respective regions, but at the national level we need parties that can think of India as one country, not as a collection of regions that are vying for a piece of cake.

The new government will be able to continue implementing the policies that it had floated in the last five years. A change in Government could have meant a reversal of some policies, and that would have meant additional burden on the exchequer. In present times, when economies are trying to recover from the global meltdown, no country can afford to spend any more than what is necessary. India is no exception.

The elections are now over, and so are the uncertainties. It, however, remains to be seen what the UPA does with the mandate it has been given. Will it prove worthy of the trust that the common Indian has vested in it, or will it squander the opportunity that it has been provided. The results do no mean the end of NDA either, as the results provide them with an opportunity to look into their weaknesses and strengths, and prepare for the General Elections in 2014.


(What are your views about the results of the Indian General elections, 2009. Leave a comment and share your views with the world)


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Neo is an engineering professional by day who takes on the mantle of a writer during the night. He started writing his first book at the age of fifteen. That book never saw the light of day, but, he says, writing that book made him realise that writing is something he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He hopes that one day he is able to quit his day job, and become a full time writer. If you like this post, you can follow Neo on Twitter

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