Exit polls broadcast by Indian television channels have projected India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi


Exit polls broadcast by Indian television channels have projected India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead in the key state of Uttar Pradesh while Congress is poised to return to power in the northern state of Punjab after a ten-year hiatus.

Most of the exit polls are unanimous that BJP is expected to return to power in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand the coastal state of Goa.

The BJP also appears set to win north-eastern state of Manipur from the Congress. If that happens in actual counting of ballots on March 11, this will be the second state in the region to have a BJP government after Assam.

However, here is a word of caution: Indian exit polls often go off the mark.

The high-pitched Assembly elections in the five states of UP, Goa, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Manipur concluded on March 8 with the last phase polling in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur. The polling in all other states – Goa, Punjab and Uttarakhand – came to an end earlier.

The election results will be a key test of Mr Modi’s popularity and a referendum on his dramatic decision in November last to ban high-denomination notes to crackdown on corruption, black money and tax evasion.

Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly has a total 403 seats. While three exit polls show a hung assembly with no party winning a clear majority. The majority mark is 202. Nearly all the exit show the BJP emerging as the single-largest party.

India News channel shows the BJP is ahead with 185 seats and SP-Congress getting 120. Times Now shows the BJP at 190 to 210 and the SP-Congress at 110-130. News channel ABP says the BJP will get 164-176 seats, while the SP-Congress Alliance about 156-169 seats. And India TV channel shows the BJP getting 155-167 seats with 135 -147 for the Alliance.

For Punjab which has 117 assembly seats, India Today-Axis exit poll show shows Congress ahead with 62-71 seats and Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)  at 42-51 seats. But India TV shows AAP winning 59-67 seats with Congress getting 41-49. India News shows Congress and AAP tied at 55 each. And similarly, News 24 has Congress and AAP tied at 54 seats each.exit-polls

The BJP is expected to record a landslide win in Uttarakhand, which has 70 assembly seats, according to three exit polls but a fourth poll shows the BJP and the Congress tied. Three exit polls for Goa which has a total of  40 seats show the BJP is ahead.



kejriwal-victoryIn Indian politics, you have heard of a simple majority, a two-third victory, or a three-fourth sweep. But surely you have never heard of a nine-tenths tsunami.The Aam Aadmi Party’s victory in 67 out of 70 Delhi Assembly seats has simply blown the established parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress out of the water.It has inflicted by far the most crushing defeat to its opposition in independent India’s electoral history.
At least when the Janata Party swept the Congress out from every seat in an arc from Gujarat to Orissa in the post-Emergency election of 1977, the Congress managed to retain some ‘izzat’ by sweeping the poll in Andhra, Karnataka and Kerala.But the BJP and Congress have been left with no comfort in the Delhi Assembly 2015 poll outcome.
In terms of political geography, defeat in a state which returns just seven members of Parliament, may not appear too devastating. But Delhi is a slice of India, peopled as it is by lakhs of Punjabis, Biharis, Uttar Pradesh-wallahs, South Indians, Bengalis, North-easterners, Christians, Muslims and so on. And the victory in Delhi is comprehensive, it has cut across caste, class, religion and ethnic divides and incorporated every demographic — from the old to the first-time voter.
The angst
Remarkably, it has been done by turning Modi’s own formula against him. It was Modi and the BJP which was able to harness middle-class angst at the UPA’s non-performance to get a 7/7 verdict in the 2014 Lok Sabha election in Delhi. Earlier, Manmohan Singh’s UPA had written on the expectations of the same middle class to get a 7/7 victory in 2009.

Modi’s strategy lay in harnessing the “neo” middle class — poor people, who aspired for middle class status in terms of income and assets. This time around, Kejriwal has ridden to his crushing victory, harnessing the aspirations of the “neo” and the continuing angst of the actual middle classes who thought that the BJP’s victory of 2014 would set a new course for the country.Instead, they found the party setting a backward course, characterised by anti-modernity and obscurantism. The venerable Indian Science Congress was made to hear a lecture on ancient flying machines; bizzare schemes of ‘ghar wapsi’ were unveiled to convert the country’s minorities.

Attacks on churches, mean-minded efforts to unmake the Christmas holiday, and a suspicious rise in what appeared to be deliberate efforts to promote communal anger increased the apprehension of the people.Sometimes, distance lends clarity to the vision. Perhaps it was this that persuaded US President Barack Obama to observe that “India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith? so long as it’s not splintered along any lines.”

If the BJP’s vanity is punctured, the Congress’s is confronted with oblivion. This was the party that ran the state for the past 15 years. The bustling Delhi of today is the Delhi of Sheila Dikshit. But the stench of corruption undid the Congress hold, beginning with the Commonwealth Games and 2G scandals.

The clock begins ticking now for the AAP, whose cure could well be worse than the current disease of corruption and misgovernance that afflicts the city.The people of the city have given AAP a second chance. Now it is up to the party to build on this and reach out to its destiny, which could be national.
But that same clock is also ticking for the BJP. It can take comfort from the fact that it has largely retained its vote share, and that the AAP vote-share gain was equal to the Congress’s loss.But the reality is that the result is a rebuke to Modi. What the people of Delhi have told him is that they are not interested in the politics of animus and hostility towards people of other faiths. That they are for modernity — education, good jobs and progress. They are determined to go forward, not be dragged back to the dark ages.

(The writer is a Distinguished Fellow at Obsrver Research Foundation, Delhi and Contributing Editor, Mail Today)

Courtesy: ORF


kejriwal-victoryDelhi loves Arvind Kejriwal. Fittingly, Kejriwal, the man who has created history by winning 67 seats in Delhi assembly, will be sworn in as the chief minister of the city state on February 14, Valentine’s Day.

The blockbuster victory of Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party has stunned pundits and pollsters alike, and only showed how much Delhi loves the greenhorn politician, decried by his opponents as ‘muffler man,’ and his connect with the masses and classes of this city state of around 25 million people.

Kejriwal is, however, not the kind to let success go to his head. A day after the results of the Delhi polls were declared, the APP said that the party would invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi and other union ministers for the swearing-in ceremony. The induction of Kejriwal, a rights activist-turned-politician, will take place at Ramlila Maidan, the sprawling public square which was the epicenter of mass anti-corruption protests in 2011, pitchforking Kejriwal into the national limelight.

“We have sought his time, and I think we have been given a time for tomorrow (Thursday),” senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia said. “Our wish is to invite the PM and senior Union ministers (for the swearing-in),” said Sisodia.

Mr Kejriwal is expected to meet Mr Modi later in this week. The BJP had made the Delhi polls a personalized contest between Mr Modi and Mr Kejriwal. The strategy did not pay off, with the BJP getting only 3 seats, the party’s worst ever performance in the Delhi elections, traditionally a bastion of the party.

Now that the elections are over, Mr Kejriwal, however, can’t afford to antagonize Mr Modi as his government will need cooperation from the Central government to deliver on some of its pet poll promises, including the Jan Lokpal bill.

Mr Modi has, however, reacted with grace in the face of a humiliating defeat by a three-year-old political party. “Spoke to @ArvindKejriwal & congratulated him on the win. Assured him Centre’s complete support in the development of Delhi,” Mr Modi tweeted after Delhi’s love for Kejriwal was reflected in the landslide victory for AAP.


delhi electionAt last, the three-week noisy and high voltage campaign marked by a slew of accusations, name callings and mud throwing is over. With the official closure of the campaign on February 5, it is time to take a close scrutiny of what the key political parties have been promising for the citizens of one of India’s biggest and richest metropolis. From free drinking water, reduced electricity tariff to free housing for poor, it’s raining freebies in Delhi. Of course, the Delhi poll promises are in conformity with the national trends – that populism and crass populism is non-negotiable aspects of country’s democratic politics. Yet, one thought political parties of this ‘enlightened’ metropolis that was turned into an epicentre of nation-wide anti-corruption stir in recent years and gave way to political newbie like AAP, would beat the national trend and offer something better.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the key contender for Delhi, was the last entity to release its poll promises – though not in the form of a “Manifesto” as the normal practice. It preferred to roll out a Vision Document based on the 6-S principle — Surakshit (safe), Swach (clean), Saakshar (literate), Sakshum (capable), Sanskari (culturally and ethically rich), and Sab ki Dilli (a Delhi for all) — propagated by the party’s CM candidate, Kiran Bedi. It is assumed that to make Delhi a world class city, the first area of improvement needs to be infrastructure. The BJP states its intention of doing so by promising to incorporate within the city an interconnected and wide-ranging Metro Rail, DTC bus, Metro feeder buses, trams and ring railway service. Construction of alternate roads and improving connectivity to rural regions such as Najafgarh, Narela, and Bawana, is also high on the agenda. Of equal importance is the issue of public safety and it is here one can see the stamp of Kiran Bedi, a former police officer. Police training, special police station for women, a special call centre for women’s safety and a Women Security Force based out of the CM’s office, and women only DTC buses, are just some of the initiatives flagged up by the party. With regard to knotty tariff issues, the Vision Document promises to reduce high electricity tariffs through competition amongst service providers, along with a CAG audit into existing discoms. In line with the national agenda of the Modi government, it promises efforts to make Delhi ‘the Solar Energy Capital’. Rain-water harvesting, development of areas around the Yamuna, increase in Green Area/Green Belt to 35%, WiFi-enabled cyber city, housing for slum dwellers, compulsory health insurance for all citizens, improvement in quality of primary education in rural areas, are just some of the other key issues of the document. And finally free housing for the poorest.

There are, however, glaring omissions in the document. For instance, the BJP has gone back on what it promised in 2013 by not promising statehood for Delhi. With no clear explanation offered, it has left the voter bemused as to how the BJP plans to get the Delhi Police, MCD, and DDA under the jurisdiction of the Delhi government. Another major issue which has not been spelt out very clearly is that of corruption. Since Kiran Bedi was part of the movement which fought so hard for the Janlokpal Bill, once she was nominated to become the CM candidate, it was expected that such a legislation would be high on her agenda. Instead, the BJP promises to set up an Accountability Commission (about which very little information is available) and strengthen the existing Lokayukta. The steps to decentralise power and improve citizen engagement also seem to lack credibility.

As regards to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), its 70-point manifesto is mostly a repeat of its 2013 election promises. The party that promises a transparent, participative and interactive government vows to legislate the Delhi Janlokpal Bill in fifteen days. Introducing a Citizen’s Charter in all Delhi government offices and providing protection to whistleblowers also comes under the ambit of fighting against corruption. The second key issue is of decentralisation. AAP promises to legislate the Swarajya Act to devolve power directly to citizens so that issues concerning local communities can be tackled directly by the citizens. The third issue taken up in the manifesto is of full-Statehood for Delhi. To bring the Delhi Police, MCD, and DDA under the State government, the AAP has vowed to use its political and moral authority to get Delhi full statehood. Apart from these three key issues, the AAP promises to reduce electricity prices by 50 per cent and will order an audit of discoms preferably by the Central Auditor General (CAG). In addition, the party claims that water is a basic right and if it comes to power, it will provide clean drinking water to all citizens at an affordable price. Their promise of lowering VAT and creating a business-friendly environment by putting a stop on “inspector raj” and “raid culture” have been lauded by the traders’ associations.

So far so good. But the problem arises when the party makes claims such as creating 8 lakh jobs in the city without substantiating as to how this is going to be done. Another similar claim is to build 500 new schools. Where does the party plan to build so many new schools? Also, there is already a shortage of teachers in existing schools. So how does the party plan to fill this gap? The AAP has also offered free WiFi in public places, albeit without a clear roadmap how it would roll out such a programme and how the costs will be met.

The Congress manifesto largely basks in the glory of Sheila Dixit’s 15-year rule. Its poll document highlights the achievements of the Congress during that period — such as Delhi Metro, making DTC the largest bus service provider in the world using clean energy (CNG), introduction of pensions for destitute women and transgender for the first time, making Delhi the first kerosene oil free city in the country, best rated implementation of the Right to Education Act, regularisation of 895 unauthorised colonies, and construction of six flyovers, 67 foot-over bridges, and 29 underpasses. The second part of its manifesto promises the right to housing, shelter, and property rights to slum dwellers and so on. This act will also include a provision of property rights through a “legal document of entitlement” giving freehold rights to all slum dwellers. Some other plans of the Congress include building double decker flyovers, underpasses, and introducing new Fast Metro Trains to combat the traffic chaos, opening four government-run vegetable shops to tackle inflation, providing special sensitivity training for police officers and government officials with regards to violence against women, opening 20 new colleges under Ambedkar University along with 150 new schools every year for 5 years.

While the Congress is successful in showcasing its past achievements, it fails to project what its vision is for the future of Delhi. Take for instance the issue of women’s security. While both the BJP and the AAP have come up with innovative methods to tackle the issue, the Congress has nothing new to offer. The same is the case for electricity and water issues — the party promises uninterrupted supply of both without giving any indication as to how this will be made possible. The lack of any concrete solutions to the acute problems are surprising as the party had run the State till 13 months ago and may have the knowledge about the problems and the way forward.

To sum up, principal parties are trying everything – from free water, subsidised electricity to guaranteed shelter – to woo the voters. A close scrutiny of promises makes it amply clear that big ideas such as Mohalla Sabha, Swarajya, Jan Lokpal or the right to shelter are for only side shows. The real competition is around freebies and easy handouts to garner support. In that sense, this elections are about freebies, crass populism and easy handouts. Even the BJP, with all its grand noises about good governance and tough measures on subsidies, has come out with its own freebies and lollipops for Delhi voters while many long term and vital issues such as Delhi’s fragile ecology (air pollution) or addressing migration, health and housing issues have received negligible attention from the main parties. So much for making Delhi a ‘liveable’ global city.


(The writers are public policy analysts with Observer research Foundation, Delhi)

Courtesy:ORFdelhi election


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