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   States Vote Leftists to Power

 

West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala returned a strong contingent of ultra leftists to power creating a large uncertainty for the Federal Government as it depends heavily on their support for survival. {Assam} is the only state where the Communists were not strong but people voted the left of Center Congress in preference to the right of center AGM. 

The analysis on why people voted the way they did is on and there are no clear reasons as to why the votes went for the communists. West Bengal (WB) is the only case where the answers are straightforward. Lacking any meaningful opposition and deep-trenched communist policies that focus on sops as a means of garnering votes has a foregone conclusion. The saving grace is that the Chief Minister Buddhadev Chatterjee is a forward-looking China-sort of communist with communism only in name but capitalist in operation. He campaigned hard on labor reform, economic reforms, and job opportunities in a state that has seen large-scale exodus of capital leaving most of the state a large slum.

ASSAM
Congress 52
AGP 25

Tamil Nadu

DMK+ 162
AIADMK+ 69
Kerala
LDF 98
UDF 42

West Bengal

Left Front 235
Trinamool 29

Pondicherry

Congress+ 20
AIADMK+ 7

Kerala saw a change because of serious infighting among its leaders Anthony, Karunakaran, and Chandy leaving a fractured state with little economic progress and lack of opportunities. This is a theme that the communists harped on and successfully conned the people again that they are the right choice. Everyone forgot that the reason why Kerala is a literate but economically bankrupt state is because of the communists.

Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry saw a sop (pun intended) opera where each party was offering all kinds of sops to the people none of which is financially viable. Karunanidhi started the battle with an offer of rice at Rs. 2 a kilogram, a color television for every home, and a host of gizmos that could bankrupt the state. Jayalalithaa countered with 10 free kilograms of rice, a mangalasutra (what women wear when they get married), and a computer for every 10th standard graduate. Federal Finance Minister P. Chidambaram was quick to point out that Jayalalitha’s offers would cost the state several hundred millions that it does not have while being silent on what Karunanidhi was offering. Congress President Sonia Gandhi said that the Federal Government will fully help the state if they are voted to power, confirming allegations by Jayalalithaa  that the Federal Government worked against her in the state.

 

In the ultimate analysis, voters in India fall into three broad categories:

  • The super rich—the 100,000 people who have to file taxes and state that they earn more than a million Rupees a year

  • The Middle Class who constitute 250 million who have jobs and are have latched on to opportunities

  • The Lower Classes who constitute the rest of India who do not have stable incomes, want to work but have no opportunities, and essentially disenfranchised

The needs of these three groups are very different. The rich do not really care because they can afford most things and are able to find ways around the difficulties of India. They do not vote nor do they care who comes to power.

The Middle Class need good roads to drive their new automobiles and two-wheelers, clean water, electricity, and education for their children. Scattered throughout the country, they do are most dominant in cities and many do not vote.

The Lower Classes are people who are farmers, artisans, daily laborers, small business owners, and urban slum dwellers. They are illiterate, eager to grow, and naïve about promises. They gravitate towards anyone who gives them a good storyline and makes a lot of promises. As was evident in Tamil Nadu, the promises that Karunanidhi made swung in his favor. People voted for those promises not questioning his earlier promises of giving 3 kilograms of rice for 1 Rupee. These are people who vote with promises and invariably paid to vote—each political party hands out at least Rs. 200 per eligible voter and this means a lot to them. To them, water, roads, electricity mean little but what matters most is cost of their staple and somewhat brighter future.

As long as there are such deep economic divisions in society, parties will continue to cheat and continue to come to power on hollow promises. In this case, this voting has national consequences. The communists are key to propping up the Federal Government and their retrograde demands continue to hold back economic reforms and bold foreign policy that will further national interests.


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