Saturday, February 28, 2009

the meeting of the brothers...

Well this one comes from Patna and it seems that finally Lalu has been forced to worry a little over the coming Lok Sabha polls... and no i'm not talking about the seat sharing confusion with the LJP (we'll come to that later) but about his "gift" to the people of Bihar through no one else but the Chief Minister and arch rival Nitish Kumar. What is the soundest proof of a politician gaining popularity in Bihar? Its when Lalu himself comes down to meet you.

Well that is what happened in Patna yesterday i.e. 27th Feb when Lalu came calling on his " छोटा भाई" or younger brother Nitish and being generous on the victims of the Kosi floods by giving him a cheque of a little over 40 crores. The aid comes officially through the Railways and Lalu's party funds and one wonders what took so much time in it to come coz the floods did happen last year you know. Beyond the moolah there were also interesting soundbytes that Lalu offered to the media (as always)... when asked whether he'd wished Nitish good luck for the elections, Lalu shot back that Nitish wasn't contesting the elections at all. :P

Analysts here are viewing this as an implied message to Lalu's votebank, which had deserted him in the last Assembly elections, to now return to the fold for the Lok Sabha polls. Lalu has impliedly sent across the statement that its not Nitish he's contesting against after all... ( its the party, silly!) Obviously Mr. Yadav is not trying to be anti Nitish for the Lok Sabha elections. With still no agreement in sight between the RJD and Paswan's LJP here in the state, the least Lalu can hope for is the JD(U) and the BJP bringing forth Nitish here on the scene.

But, that is easier said than done as no doubt Laluji expects, the BJP-JD(U) combine is in full preparation of kickstarting the election campaign and while Shatrughan Sinha can create a tantrum over the Patna Sahib seat its still far less complicated than what the other camp is in.

As far as popularity goes, Nitish is at an all time high by presenting an unprecedentedly balanced budget that has been praised in all circles here... it just gives one satisfaction to note that even Lalu has come to acknowledge the fact now.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Seat Sharing Conundrum for the LDF

The political scene in Kerala can be considered to be one of the most stable in the country with two long established alliances one led by the CPI(M) and the other led by the Congress alternating in power. A state with strong political polarisation, margins in elections are inevitably close and most parties and fronts have their strongholds. This is especially true in the case of Lok Sabha polls where the Fronts have consistently held most of their strongholds for years. The only exception to this came in the 2004 election when the LDF led by the CPI(M) swept the polls winning 18 out of the 20 seats in the state. This relative stability even extended to which seats were to be contested by various partners in the alliances. However, the recent delimitation of constituencies has upset this equillibrium.

Interestingly enough, the greater confusion appears to have been caused in the LDF which is generally known for amicable seat sharing while ugly fights are normally reserved for the 'bourgeoiuse' UDF. This time however, the trend appears to be reversed with the UDF having completed the allocation of seats and the LDF still embroiled in tussles. The root cause of the trouble stems from the CPI(M)'s desire to take back seats which had long ago been alloted to allies in view of the changed realities post delimitation. The biggest tussle as of now is over the Kozhikode Lok Sabha seat in North Kerala which is currently held by the JD(S) state chief M.P. Veerendrakumar. The CPI(M) wants to contest the seat giving the newly created Wayand Lok Sabha seat to the JD(S). The JD(S) doesn't want the exchange as Kozhikode which was a fairly marginal seat before delimtation has turned into a much more safe LDF seat with the transfer of three UDF strongholds mainly in Wayand district to the Wayanad seat. These seats have been replaced by LDF strongholds. Wayanad itself is composed of seven assembly segments all of which are traditional bastions of the UDF which have fallen to the LDF only during strong pro-LDF waves. The present political climate in the state which is marginally against the ruling LDF government means that the LDF will probably struggle to win Wayanad while winning Kozhikode.

The minuscle strength of the JD(S) in Kerala should in theory atleast mean that the CPI(M)'s wishes should be fulfiiled. However, the fact that the JD(S) is the only party which seems committed to a third front at the national level andVeerendrakumar being the owner of Mathrubhumi, the influential Malayalam daily might make the CPI(M) think twice about dumping the JD(S). The second tussle is over the Ponnani seat in Malappuram district which was once the safest seat for the UDF in the state. After delimitation, the seat has become marginaly more competitive and the CPI(M) senses the chance to win the seat with the right candidate. The CPI however has traditionally contested the seat and is in no mood to give up the seat just as there appears to be a genuine chance to win.

The conundrum is to be resolved tomorrow at the LDF executive meeting. Watch this space to know whether the CPI(M) succeds in wresting the two seats

An attempt to analyse the Indian Poll Scene

This blog represents an attempt by some students of the National Law School of India Unviersity, Banaglore to provide insightful commentary on Indian politics in the run up to the 2009 General Elections. This election promises to be one of the most unpredictable elections that we have witnessed in recent times with no party or alliance in a clear winning position. Something that adds to the flux is the fact that alliances also seem to be shifting and changing. Old and trusted allies seem to be parting ways while sworn enemies might come together. The Left is back to treating the BJP and the Congress equally as evils unlike in the 2004 polls. All this promises to serve up a great poll season and we hope to cover it in the best way possible with the resources at our disposal.

As of now, three of us will be involved in writing this blog. All of us are second year students of NLSIU, Bangalore. My two friends are Kunal Ambasta from Dhanbad, Jharkhand and Navaneeth Nair from Trivandrum, Kerala. I am Rohit G Jayaraman from Palakkad, Kerala. Some more of our friends might join in as the election season approaches. More on them when they join in. All of us hold our own strong views on politics and have our own biases which will be revealed as time goes by. This in my opinion will serve to ensure that the blog as a whole is able to take a reasonably obbjective view of the elections.

Hoping that this blog turns out to be a success.