Category Archives: India

India (state elections) 2012

State elections were held in five Indian states in January, February and March with all five states announcing their results on March 6. The biggest and most important of these five states up for grabs was Uttar Pradesh (UP), which is the most populous sub-national entity in the world with a population of nearly 200 million and an electorate of some 127 million. Elections were also held in Goa, Manipur, Punjab and Uttarakhand.

Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state and a political powerhouse, being the political base of the Indian National Congress’ (INC) ruling Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Despite being a demographic powerhouse as well, UP has tended to lag behind the rest of India in terms of economic development and industrialization. Since the 1990s, in the ever-fragmented world of Indian politics, UP has moved away from traditional dominance by the INC and other national parties in favour of rather regional, but not regionalist, parties; the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Like in the rest of India, identity politics based on caste or religion are very important in UP. The Samajwadi Party, led for ages by former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, appeals largely to Muslims (19% of UP) and Yadav’s own Yadav caste, a lowish pastoral caste. The BSP, led by incumbent Chief Minister Mayawati, appeals to dalits (untouchables). The conservative Hindu BJP, the main right-wing party in India, maintains a strong base, though nowhere near the base the BJP had in the 1990s when it controlled the state government for a few years. Like in the rest of India, the BJP appeals to the upper castes, including Brahmins and Rajputs, while it has very low support amongst Muslims and untouchables.

The BSP’s Mayawati and the SP’s Mulayam Singh Yadav have alternated in power for the past 15 years or so, though state governments have rarely managed to live out their five-year terms. Mayawati ruled between 2002 and 2003, before Yadav took over and ruled until the 2007 elections. The 2007 state elections will likely go down as one of the most important state elections in UP, given that they gave Mayawati’s BSP won an absolute majority with a pretty staggering 206 out of 403 seats against 97 for the SP, down from some 150 incumbents. The BSP built its majority in 2007 through a unique coalition of Mayawati’s dalit core electorate and the urban upper classes, a sort of anti-Yadav (the middle classes of sorts) coalition driven by the idea that the main rivals of the dalit were the Yadavs and not the upper classes. The BSP and Mayawati’s spectacular victory gave the BSP some national aspirations and Mayawati’s name was floated as a potential future Prime Minister. However, the BSP’s home for a breakthrough in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections were dashed when it won only 21 seats, all but one of them in UP where it won only 20 seats to the INC’s 21 and the SP’s 23. Of course, in terms of popular vote, its vote share in UP was down only some 3% on its 2007 record (30% of the vote), but the thing which matters in Indian politics is often the seat count.

Mayawati’s rule has been marked by many allegations of corruption – she has become one of the wealthiest politicians in India, meaning she’s probably filling her pockets – and of mismanagement of funds – of the type of building statues of herself and stuff like parks. Corruption is a major issue in India nowadays, with the Anna Hazare campaign last year, and Mayawati has likely taken a major hit because of all the corruption and mismanagement of funds issues.

The INC, in some tough straits nationally, heavily targeted the elections in UP after it won its worst result in the 2007 elections, taking only 22 out of 403 seats. The INC’s rising star of sorts, Rahul Gandhi, a MP for UP, campaigned full-time in UP for over a year and with lavish funds. The INC was obviously hoping to restore the party’s past glory days in the family stronghold, after the decrepitude of 2002-2007. It had won a decent showing in the 2009 federal elections, however.

Turnout in UP was 59.5%, up over 10 points from 2007, when it stood at 46.1%. Results were:

SP 224 (+127)
BSP 80 (-126)
BJP 47 (-4)
INC 28 (+6)
RLD 9 (-1)
NCP 1 (+1)
Others 14 (-3)

The two most important things that we can get out of the UP results are, firstly, Mayawati’s defeat and, secondly, the slap in the face for the INC. Mayawati’s defeat, and the replacement of a huge BSP majority by an even bigger SP majority led by Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son Akhilesh, does not seem to have surprised observers of Indian politics all that much though for casual observers like myself it was certainly the most interesting thing out of the results. After the BSP’s underwhelming performance in 2009 and the SP’s strong performance that same year, this year’s defeat is not all that shocking. The popular vote margin was far narrower than the seat gap indicates, with the BSP taking something like 26% or so of the vote, down only 4% from its 2007 result; and the SP winning 29%, up 4%. The BSP’s defeat is likely the result in part of the controversies surrounding Mayawati’s government such as corruption and misuse of public funds. The BSP itself has blamed the results on vote shifting by Muslim voters from the BSP to the SP, as to prevent a BJP victory. In the end, however, the SP and Yadav’s victory is only the replacement of one strongwoman – Mayawati – by a strongman – Yadav. It is unlikely to change much in terms of government policy.

The other thing which can be taken out of the UP elections is the slap in the face for the INC. Rahul Gandhi had campaigned full-time in the state for a year or so, and the INC was hoping to score major gains in the state, but ultimately it fell quite short of its hopes of winning 60-80 seats. The whole INC had been hoping for a strong performance in India’s gargantuan state. In New Delhi, Prime Minister Singh’s INC government is limping toward the 2014 elections, hurt by corruption scandals, slowing economic growth and rising inflation. It is having trouble passing its main policy initiative – foreign investment liberalization – at the moment because some of its allies are blocking such reforms. The INC had hoped that a strong performance in UP, which would entail a hung parliament, could mean an INC-SP alliance both in UP and in New Delhi, where the SP’s 23 members currently support the government without being part of the ruling coalition. In the end, the SP will govern alone in UP and the INC is left licking its wounds in UP after a disastrous result, gaining only 6 seats and winning only 12% of the vote (+3% on 2007). The only good news for the INC is that the BJP continues to fare no better, despite the government’s troubles, the national BJP is struggling to appear as a credible alternative. It had a terrible showing in UP.

IBN has a nice interactive map, which most other news outlets also have.

In predominantly Sikh Punjab, the INC was also hoping for a strong performance in a state which has been ruled since 2007 by Parkash Singh Badal of the Sikh-centric Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the traditional representative of predominantly upper-class Sikh jats (landowners and so forth) in Punjab. The INC draws its support, largely, from upper-caste Hindus (about 37% of the population) and lower castes. The SAD and INC have usually been rivals for control of the state, which has alternated between chaos, INC governments and SAD governments. The SAD is allied with the conservative Hindu BJP both in Punjab and nationally, as part of a strategic alliance which serves the needs of both parties. The INC had hoped to do well in Punjab after a strong performance in the state in the 2009 election, taking 8 seats to the SAD’s 4 and the BJP’s one. Back then, the Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, was in hot waters after he took the unpopular move of making his son Deputy Chief Minister. Results were:

SAD 56 seats (+7)
INC 46 seats (+2)
BJP 12 seats (-7)
Others 3 seats (-2)

Ultimately, the INC failed to make any significant gains in Punjab, a second black eye for the INC after its poor performance in UP. The government’s reelection is the first time since the 1980s that an incumbent government has won reelection. The IBN’s map is here.

The small Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, created in 2000 from parts of UP, has been ruled since its creation by the BJP save for one term (2002-2007) when it was ruled by the INC. The incumbent BJP government is fairly popular, but in the 2009 election, the INC won the state’s five seats in the Lok Sabha. It was one of the INC’s main targets this year. The results were:

INC 32 seats (+11)
BJP 31 seats (-4)
BSP 3 seats (-5)
Others 3 seats (nc)
UKKD 1 seat (-2)

The INC and BJP end up basically tied in a hung parliament, with the other parties – the BSP, which won three seats on the border with UP, 3 independents and the lone member of the regionalist UKKD – acting as kingmakers. The UKKD in the last legislature sided with the BJP, but it is hard to see the BSP’s members backing the BJP. The IBN’s map is here.

Manipur is a small and troubled state in India’s mountainous north east. The dominant ethnicity in Manipur are the largely Hindu Meeteis, who make up 60% of the population. But the state has long been the scene of interethnic violence between the Meeteis and the two main ethnic minorities: the northern Naga and the southern Kukis (close to the Mizos of Mizoram), both of which are Christian. The INC has ruled the state since 2002. The ruling party in the neighboring Nagaland, the NPF, entered the competition, as did the ruling party in West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee’s All-India Trinamool Congress (TMC). Results were:

INC 42 seats (+12)
TMC 7 seats (+7)
MSCP 5 seats (+5)
NPF 4 seats (+4)
LJP 1 seat (+1)
NCP 1 seat (nc)

In one of the INC’s few truly good results of the night, the INC won an absolute majority in Manipur. However, the downside for the INC nationally is the strong showing by Mamata Banerjee’s TMC. The mercurial TMC, which now governs West Bengal, is a member of the ruling UPA coalition, but the populist party has so far blocked the INC’s economic reforms and after the strong result in Manipur, the TMC can be expected to be even more assertive as it is confident of its chances in a general election at this point. The IBN map is here.

The former Portuguese counter of Goa retains a large Catholic minority (about a quarter of the state), which has traditionally backed the INC. The INC has governed the state since 2005. The BJP is the other main party in Goa, dominant with Hindus, while the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) has usually had a solid base with lower-class Hindus and at one time supported merger with neighboring Maharashtra. The results were:

BJP 21 seats (+7)
INC 9 seats (-7)
MGP 3 seats (+1)
Others 5 seats (+3)

The BJP-MGP coalition won a large majority in Goa, though again the vote shares were much closer. It has been written that the BJP reached out to Catholic Goans and did fairly well with a traditionally core INC electorate. Goa is a small state, but it was still a significant defeat for the INC, hurt locally by corruption and economic troubles. The map is here.

The results of this round of state elections, to be followed later in the year by elections in states such as Gujarat, are generally a pretty bad omen for the ruling INC. Its poor showing in UP and its failure to do better in Punjab overshadow its better luck in Manipur and Uttarakhand. It is hurt by corruption scandals, lagging economic growth, a lack of policy initiatives and high inflation. With the TMC now extending its arm outside West Bengal with much success, it also must deal with a tough partner who will continue blocking the government’s landmark reform initiatives in 2012. However, the BJP fared little better. Outside Goa, it lost seats in all other states and won no seats again in Manipur. The BJP has failed to appear as a credible rival to the INC and, like the INC, finds itself weakened in the fragmenting world of Indian politics.

West Bengal (India) 2011

A general election for the 294-seat Legislative Assembly of West Bengal in India was held in six phases between April 18 and May 10 with the votes counted on May 13. West Bengal had the longest serving democratically elected communist government in the world, with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) – the CPI(M) for short – ruling the state since 1977. West Bengal, which includes Calcutta, has long been a stronghold of Indian communism, something which might have something to do with the state’s alleged alienation from New Delhi. The Chief Minister of West Bengal since 2000 has been Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, famous for liberalizing West Bengal’s economy somewhat although West Bengal remains one of India’s poorest states.

Politics in West Bengal are pretty much a two-way game between the CPI(M)-led Left Front and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) – the ruling multi-party coalition in New Delhi. The UPA is dominated by the All-India Trinamool Congress (AITC), a populist party led by Mamata Banerjee. The INC has a smaller base within the UPA, while the ruling Left Front also includes assorted communists and socialists. The BJP is inexistent in West Bengal.

Here are the results of the election:

AITC – UPA 184 seats (+154)
INC – UPA 42 seats (+21)
CPI(M) – LF 40 seats (-135)
AIFB – LF 11 seats (-12)
RSP – LF 7 seats (-13)
CPI – LF 2 seats (-7)
SP – ? 1 seat (+1)
Others 7 seats

As happens in most Indian state elections, when the ruling party is voted out of power it is usually done through a rout of epic proportions. Though the popular vote was only split 48-42 in the UPA’s favour, the wonders of FPTP turned that small-ish margin into a landslide defeat. The sitting Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, was defeated in his own seat.

The Communist lost can be attributed to a number of factors, the most prominent of which are corruption, bad governance, poverty and being in power for way too long. More recently, land battles in the state ended in the Communist government ordering the police to shoot down protesters, which was, of course, a very bad move for a communist party. The CPI(M)’s defeat has been on the cards since 2009 at least, when the Left suffered loses in the Lok Sabha elections and then in 2010 when the CPI(M) lost its Calcutta stronghold in local elections. But even though it was predicted, the CPI(M)’s defeat remains shocking by its proportion. West Bengal is the core, the pedestal of the Indian communist movement which makes this defeat all the more significant.

For those who believe that India’s future economic development resides in free-market economics, they won’t be too enamored with Mamata Banerjee or the AITC. Mamata is a populist, who made a big issue of the land battles which destroyed the CPI(M) and which managed to sweep out the government on a wave of revolutionary fervour. The AITC and Mamata played a major role in the 2006 protests opposing the implantation of a Tata factory in Singur and finally drove Tata (and jobs) out of the state. But given that the AITC is a member of the governing UPA alliance, it won’t be able to break out too much from the central government’s economic policies.

In other Assembly polls, the CPI(M) lost control of its other stronghold – Kerala – to a INC-led alliance albeit rather narrowly. In Tamil Nadu, the governing Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) lost in a landslide to its enemy, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and in doing so will continue the amusing game of musical chairs played between the DMK’s boss M. Karunanidhi and the AIADMK’s J. Jayalalithaa which has been going on almost unhindered since 1989.  In Assam, the governing INC won a huge majority at the BJP and Asom Gana Parishad’s expense.

India 2009

India’s massive month long election ended today in a Indian-style “landslide” for the governing centre-left United Progressive Alliance (UPA), which includes, among a ton of others, the Indian National Congress (INC or Congress). The opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which includes the Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fared much worse than expected, as did the new Third Front formed by various regional parties and India’s Communists (CPI and CPIM).

With almost all seats declared, here are the results by coalition:

UPA 252 elected + 4 leading=256 seats (+76)
NDA 162 elected + 1 leading=164 seats (-13)
Third Front 76 elected + 4 leading=80 seats (-28)
Fourth Front 29 elected=29 seats (-35)
Others 14

I gave a brief overview of the situation as India started voting a month ago in an earlier blog post.

As I said then, detailed analysis at the Indian level would be very hard, so I’ve preferred to continue analyzing by state and Union Territory. Some of this may be wrong, or may change.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands (1 MP): These remote islands in the Bay of Bengal have only one MP in the Lok Sabha. The BJP has won the seat representing the islands from the INC. NDA 1 (+1)
Andhra Pradesh (42 MPs): India’s 5th most populated state is largely Hindu, but speaks a Dravidian language (Telugu). In a huge surprise, the INC has repeated it’s 2004 landslide in the state, winning 31 seats (two more than the 29 seats won by the INC in 2004). The state’s two Telugu regionalist parties, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (NDA-TRS) won 2 seats and the Telugu Desam Party (3rd Front-TDP) won 6 seats. The BJP won one seat, as did the new left-populist Praja Rajyam Party (led by an actor, which is not uncommon in India), and the “MIM” (I think it’s another Muslim party) won one seat. UPA 31 (+2), 3rd F 6 (-1), NDA 3 (-2), 4th F 1 (+1), Others 1
Arunachal Pradesh (2 MPs): The easternmost state of India high in the Himalayas has 2 MPs. The INC gained both seats from the BJP. UPA 2 (+2)
Assam (14 MPs): Assam is located just below Arunachal Pradesh and has 14 MPs. The INC and a local ally now have 7 MPs, while the BJP has 4. In addition to two Third Front (Assam United Democratic Front) MPs, the regionalist Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), an ally of the BJP, has one seat. UPA 7 (-2), NDA 5 (+1), 3rd F 2 (+2)
Bihar (40 MPs): Bihar, in northeastern India, is one of the states dominated by regional parties. The largest of these parties is the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), a member of the UPA in 2004 (and now totally independent, in a so-called Fourth Front) whose support comes from Yadavs and Muslims. The RJD is locally allied with the Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJNSP). The RJD lost the 2005 state elections to a coalition led by the Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), which is affiliated with the BJP’s NDA. Ironically, both the RJD and JD(U) originally evolved from the same party. The JD(U), a member of the NDA, won a landslide winning 20 seats (the BJP itself won 11 seats). The RJD took a thumping, as expected, and fell from 25 to just 4 tonight. In addition, the INC holds two seats and there are two Independents. NDA 32 (+21), 4th F 4 (-21), UPA 2 (-1), Others 2 (+1 I guess)
Chandigarh (1 MP): Chandigarh, the richest city in India, is a Union Territory and a city serving as capital of Punjab and Haryana states. The INC holds the seat representing the city since 1999 and held it again this year. UPA 1 (nc)
Chhattisgarh (11 MPs): The central Indian state of Chhattisgarh is a BJP stronghold, which won 10 seats in 2004. The INC holds one seat. This election gives the exact same result. NDA 10 (nc), UPA 1 (nc)
Dadra and Nagar Haveli (1 MP): Dadra and Nagar Haveli, formerly part of Portuguese India, is another UT on the west Indian coast. The seat, which was won by the Bharatiya Navshakti Party (BNP), independent of coalitions, in 2004 was won by the BJP today. NDA 1 (+1)
Daman and Diu (1 MP): Daman and Diu, also formerly Portuguese and also a UT has one seat, which was lost by the INC to the profit of the BJP. NDA 1 (+1)
NCT of Delhi (7 MPs): The Indian capital, New Delhi, has 7 MPs. The INC won all seven constituencies in a clean sweap, destroying the BJP (which held one in 2004 and all seven in 1999). UPA 7 (+1)
Goa (2 MPs): The former Portuguese colony of Goa has 2 MPs, one each for the INC and BJP. On a side note, the INC MP has a Portuguese name, interestingly. NDA 1 (nc), UPA 1 (nc)
Gujarat (26 MPs): The state of Gujarat, which, contrarily to what the media likes to think, does not have a huge Muslim population (slightly below national average, in fact) is a generally solid state for the BJP. The INC, which held twelve seats in 2004, limited its bleeding, which was widely expected, to lose only one seat. NDA 15 (+1), UPA 11 (-1)
Haryana (10 MPs): Haryana, a state in northeastern India, is the 3rd richest in India and also the hub of a lot of the Indian industry (IT, and outsourcing). The INC kept all its 9 seats, but the BJP lost its only seat to a new independent outfit, abbreviated HJCBL. UPA 9 (nc), Others 1 (+1)
Himachal Pradesh (4 MPs): Also located in the larger Punjab region but to the north of Haryana, the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh has 4 MPs. A logical suite to the 2007 state elections, in which the BJP won a landslide, the BJP won big in Himachal Pradesh. It has 3 MPs, against one for the INC. NDA 3 (+2), UPA 1 (-2)
Jammu and Kashmir (6 MPs): India’s northernmost and largest Muslim state has 6 MPs. The JK National Conference was allied with the NDA in 2004, but joined the UPA since it now forms government in Kashmir with the INC. The JKNC has won three seats, the INC has won two, and one Independent won in Buddhist Ladakh. UPA 5 (+1), Others 1 (-1)
Jharkhand (14 MPs): The east Indian state of Jharkhand has 14 MPs. The BJP won the majority of the seats in the state, which was won by the INC in 2004. The BJP has eight MPs. The INC has just one, though its local ally, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha has two. There are also two Indepedents and one representative of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM). NDA 7 (+7), UPA 3 (-7), Others 2
Karnataka (28 MPs): The south Indian state of Karnatka, which includes the city of Bangalore, has 28 MPs. Despite it being a Dravidian state, Karnataka has become a strong state for the BJP, which now holds 19 seats. The INC has 6 seats, while the Janata Dal (Secular), a member of the Third Front, has three seats. NDA 19 (+1), UPA 6 (-2), 3rd F 3 (+1)
Kerala (20 MPs): The southwestern state of Kerala (and the largest Muslim state, with 24.7%, outside of J&K) is one of the best off states in India, with low poverty, high literacy and HDI. Ironically, the state is traditionally a stronghold of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) – CPI(M) for short, which was founded in the ’60’s in a pro-Chinese/Maoist lines as opposed to a more pro-Russian (but also pro-cooperation with the INC) Communist Party of India (CPI). Both parties are quasi-identical nowadays. The Communists were destroyed this year, reduced to four seats, all of which are CPI (M) members. Both the Communist Party of India and the Janata Dal (Secular) lost all their seats. The UPA won 16 seats, of which 13 are for the INC. A Muslim party allied with the UPA has two seats, and an outfit known as KECM (I think it may be a faction of the Christian Kerala Congress) won one. UPA 16 (+15), 3rd F 4 (-12)
Lakshadweep (1 MP): The Lakshadweep Islands off the west coast of India are a Union Territory with one MP. The seat, which was held by the JD(U) in 2004 was won by the INC this year. UPA 1 (+1)
Madhya Pradesh (29 MPs): The central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is a BJP stronghold. However, the INC made significant inroads in the state, reducing the BJP to 19 seats (25 in 2004). NDA 19 (-6), UPA 10 (+6)
Maharashtra (48 MPs): India’s second most populous state and home to Mumbai, the central Indian state of Maharashtra is a swing state in Indian politics. The UPA has won 25 seats compared to 20 for the NDA. I have calculated that the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), a anti-Sonia Gandhi INC splinter, has won 6 seats (9 in 2004) and the INC has won 14. Despite the Mumbai bombing, the UPA now controls all Mumbai seats, including one seat gained from Shiv Sena. Within the NDA, the radical Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena has 11 seats (12 in 2004) against 9 for the BJP. There is one Independent and two MPs for other regionalist parties which have names I’ve never seen before. UPA 25 (+3), NDA 20 (-5), Others 3
Manipur (2 MPs): A small state in northeastern India with a sizeable Christian minority, Manipur has two MPs: two INC since 2009. UPA 2 (+2)
Megahalaya (2 MPs): Yet another small state in NE India, Megahalaya has a Christian majority (70%). It has Congress MP and one NCP MP. UPA 2 (+1)
Mizoram (1 MP): See Megahalaya. NE India, Christian. The MP elected in 2004 represented the regionalist Mizo National Front (MNF/NDA). The MNF lost the 2008 state election to the INC in a landslide on the back of a strong anti-incumbency wave. Logically, the INC gained the seat. UPA 1 (+1)
Nagaland (1 MP): See above. NE India, Christian. The current MP represents the regionalist Nagaland People’s Front (NPF/NDA). NDA 1 (nc)
Orissa (21 MPs): Orissa, on the east coast of India, is another state with a strong regionalist party. The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), allied to the BJP until this year, joined the Third Front. Thus far (count is not complete), the BJD has 13 seats and the CPI has one seat. In addition, the UPA (aka INC only) has seven seats. The NDA took a thumping and is left with no seats. 3rd F 14 (+6), UPA 7 (+4)
Puducherry (1 MP): The former French territory of Puducherry/Pondichery has one MP, which is now a member of the INC. The Tamil-based Third Front Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) lost the seat. UPA 1 (+1)
Punjab (13 MPs): Punjab state in northeastern India has a Sikh majority. The Sikh Shiromani Akali Dal, a member of the NDA has seen its share of seats halved, from 8 to 4. The BJP holds only one seat, while the INC went from two to seven. UPA 7 (+5), NDA 5 (-5)
Rajasthan (25 MPs): The state of Rajasthan, the largest state in terms of land area (but a lot of desert), is generally a BJP ’safe’ state. In fact, the BJP won 21 seats in 2004, against 4 for the INC. However, the BJP lost the control of the state to the INC in 2008 and logically the INC swept the state this year. UPA 19 (+15), NDA 4 (-16), Others 1 (+1)
Sikkim (1 MP): Sikkim, a tiny state up there in the Himalayas is the least populated state in India. It has one MP, representing the Sikkim Democratic Front. The SDF is omnipotent in Sikkim. Others 1 (nc)
Tamil Nadu (39 MPs): Tamil politics are incomprehensible to the outside world, including me. So I’ll try my best to explain what I do understand. Parties, most of them regional Dravidian parties, don’t really seem to have ideologies, or if they do, it’s very minimal in actual political matters. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK-UPA) has 18 seats now. The INC had 8, and the Dalit-based Viduthalai Siruthaigal.The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK, Third Front), the major component of the Third Front in the state has won 9 seats, while its allies, the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK-Third Front), the CPI(M) and CPI each hold one seat each. UPA 27 (+1), 3rd F 12 (-1)
Tripura (2 MPs): Tripura is a small northeastern state in India, with a mostly Bengali (Hindu) population. The CPI(M) holds both seats.3rd F 2 (nc)
Uttar Pradesh (80 MPs): With 80 seats in the Lok Sabha, the state of Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state (190 million people. Would be 5th most populated country in the world if independent!). Dominated in the past by the INC, Janata Dal, and later BJP, it is increasingly dominated by local parties. In 2004, the Samajwadi Party (SP), which is independent of coalitions nationally, won 35 seats. The SP’s support is mostly Muslim (18%) or in the lower castes (Dalits). The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is also a lower-caste party led by Mayawati, a dalit herself, but an opportunist more than anything else. The BSP, like so many Indian regional parties, has no ideology except for being Mayawati’s personal machine. The Economist, which understandably has no great love for the BSP or the Indian left (and is certainly biased), says that she is “masquerading as a promoter of dalit rights”. The BSP won only 19 seats in 2004, but the BSP won UP’s first majority government since 1991 in 2007, with Mayawati as Premier. Recently, the BSP has expanded to become a party for all Indian dalits, and this endeavour has been met with some success, based on recent state elections. The BSP, independent in 2004, is now a member of the Third Front and Mayawati is the unofficial leader of the coalition, with some even seeing her as India’s PM. The BSP was excepted to sweep UP this year, but the SP actually resisted spectacularly despite infighting and actually won the most seats in the state! The INC, and to a lesser extent, the BJP, have also performed well in this state where national parties seem to be falling out of vogue. The election was a close finish, however. The SP has 24 seats, the INC has 21, the BSP has 20, and the BJP has 15. 4th F 24 (-11), UPA 21 (+12), 3rd F 20 (+1), NDA 15 (+5)
Uttarakhand (5 MPs): Uttarakhand, a northern state, has 5 MPs. The BJP won three seats here in 2004, but this year, the INC has swept all 5 seats. UPA 5 (+4)
West Bengal (42 MPs): West Bengal in eastern India has been an historical base of Indian communism. The state was a base for Naxalite, Marxist, and trade unionist movements; and has been ruled by the CPIM for three decades. As in Kerala, the Communists have been given the boot. The Left (CPIM and CPI) have lost twenty seats, ending up with only 15 MPs. The INC and its ally All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) have a net gain of 18 for 25 seats. The BJP has picked up one seat. I’m too lazy to break down the seats just yet. UPA 25 (+18, 3rd F 15 (-20), NDA 1 (+1)

In state elections, the INC has won a majority of seats in Andhra Pradesh, the BJD has a majority in Orissa, and the SDF won all 32 seats in Sikkim.

The BJP has conceded victory and the UPA should have no trouble finding a few allies to form government (a majority is 272). If they ally with the Fourt Front, they already have 286. They could also ally with a few parties in the Third Front and even the NDA (except for the BJP and Shiv Sena) to form another majority. In addition, the UPA won’t be annoyed on its left by the Cold War-era Communists and the government’s economic reforms shouldn’t be hindered by the Communists any longer.

Election Preview: India 2009

India, the world’s second largest country and the largest democracy in the world, is voting for one month, until May 16. 714 million voters are registered to vote, although turnout is generally 50-60%. India’s lower house, the Lok Sabha, which is up for election, has 543 seats each representing one FPTP constituency. I won’t pretend to know everything about Indian politics (if such a feat is possible by a non-superhuman), since Indian politics is very divided and very confusing, and getting more divided and confusing by the minutes. Indian politics in the past were generally less divided, but recent elections have seen the rise of formidable regional party machines in various Indian states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.

In May 2004, the the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee was defeated by the so-called United Progressive Alliance (UPA) dominated by the Indian National Congress (INC), which is led by Sonia Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi declined to become Prime Minister, with the post going to former Finance Minister Manmohan Singh, a Sikh.

39 parties won seats in 2004, although the vast majority of these parties have aligned into one of two alliances: the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) dominated by the Hindu nationalist (and economically right-wing) BJP and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) dominated by the Indian National Congress, a generally centrist to centre-left party dominated by the Gandhi family. The NDA (and the UPA, to a lesser extent it seems) has been deserted by a lot of its regional allies who have formed a Third Front, including the Communists.

Indian politics are relatively anti-incumbent, like Bangladesh. But they’re also unpredictable, despite the pollsters best efforts (polling 15k people or even more). In 2004, for example, the BJP-NDA was widely expected to win a crushing victory. I’ll only mention seat counts here, since popular vote figures are useless in India. It’s possible to poll 40% and win no seats, like it’s possible to poll 10% and win, say, 1o-20 seats. India shows how awful FPTP is.

It would be impossible to explain current Indian politics on a national level, so I’ve decided to break this down into short snippets about each state and Union Territory. For starters, I’ll stick to describing the current seat breakdown without getting too much into the 2009 outlook.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands (1 MP): These remote islands in the Bay of Bengal have only one MP in the Lok Sabha. Since 2004, the seat is held by the INC, which gained the seat from the BJP (1999-2004). The constituency voted on April 16.
Andhra Pradesh (42 MPs): India’s 5th most populated state is largely Hindu, but speaks a Dravidian language (Telugu). While the INC won a landslide in the state in 2004, with 29 seats, Andhra Pradesh has two important Telugu regionalist parties, both of which are now in the Third Front. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) was affiliated with the UPA in 2004, and won 5 seats (6.83%). The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) was affiliated with the NDA in 2004, and won 5 seats but over 30% of the vote. Both parties now support a Telangana state.
Arunachal Pradesh (2 MPs): The easternmost state of India high in the Himalayas has 2 MPs, both of which are members of the BJP, gained from the INC in 2004.
Assam (14 MPs): Assam is located just below Arunachal Pradesh and has 14 MPs. The INC has 9 MPs, while the BJP has 2. In addition to one Indie, the regionalist Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has 2 seats.
Bihar (4o MPs): Bihar, in northeastern India, is one of the states dominated by regional parties. The largest of these parties is the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), a member of the UPA in 2004 (and now totally independent, in a so-called Fourth Front) whose support comes from Yadavs and Muslims. The RJD is locally allied with the Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJNSP). The RJD lost the 2005 state elections to a coalition led by the Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), which is affiliated with the BJP’s NDA. Ironically, both the RJD and JD(U) originally evolved from the same party. The INC has three seats, while the BJP holds 5 seats.
Chandigarh (1 MP): Chandigarh, the richest city in India, is a Union Territory and a city serving as capital of Punjab and Haryana states. The INC holds the seat representing the city since 1999.
Chhattisgarh (11 MPs): The central Indian state of Chhattisgarh is a BJP stronghold, which won 10 seats in 2004. The INC holds one seat.
Dadra and Nagar Haveli (1 MP): Dadra and Nagar Haveli, formerly part of Portuguese India, is another UT on the west Indian coast. The seat is held by the Bharatiya Navshakti Party (BNP), which is independent of all coalitions, it seems.
Daman and Diu (1 MP): Daman and Diu, also formerly Portuguese and also a UT has one seat, held by the INC.
NCT of Delhi (7 MPs): The Indian capital, New Delhi, has 7 MPs, of which 6 are members of the INC and one is a member of the BJP. In 1999, all 7 MPs were BJP.
Goa (2 MPs): The former Portuguese colony of Goa has 2 MPs, one each for the INC and BJP.
Gujarat (26 MPs): The state of Gujarat, which, contrarily to what the media likes to think, does not have a huge Muslim population (slightly below national average, in fact) is a generally solid state for the BJP, which holds 14 seats against 12 for the INC. The BJP won a relatively important victory in the 2007 state elections.
Haryana (10 MPs): Haryana, a state in northeastern India, is the 3rd richest in India and also the hub of a lot of the Indian industry (IT, and outsourcing). The INC holds 9 seats, the BJP holds one. The BJP has an ally in the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), which recently joined the NDA.
Himachal Pradesh (4 MPs): Also located in the larger Punjab region but to the north of Haryana, the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh has 4 MPs, three from the INC and one from the BJP. The BJP won the 2007 state elections in a landslide, defeating the INC.
Jammu and Kashmir (6 MPs): India’s northernmost and largest Muslim state has 6 MPs. The INC has two seats, while the JK National Conference has two. The JKNC was allied with the NDA in 2004, but joined the UPA since it now forms government in Kashmir with the INC. The smaller regionalist JK People’s Democratic Party has one seat, while an Independent holds the last seat.
Jharkhand (14 MPs): The east Indian state of Jharkhand has 14 MPs, of which six are Congress. While it topped the poll in terms of votes, the BJP has only one MP. The RJD has 2 MPs, and there is one Communist. The regional (ex)UPA-member Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has four seats.
Karnataka (28 MPs): The south Indian state of Karnatka, which includes the city of Bangalore, has 28 MPs. Despite it being a Dravidian state, Karnataka has become a strong state for the BJP, which holds 18 seats. The INC holds 8. The Janata Dal (Secular), a member of the Third Front, has two seats.
Kerala (20 MPs): The southwestern state of Kerala (and the largest Muslim state, with 24.7%, outside of J&K) is one of the best off states in India, with low poverty, high literacy and HDI. Ironically, the state is a stronghold of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) – CPI(M) for short, which was founded in the ’60’s in a pro-Chinese/Maoist lines as opposed to a more pro-Russian (but also pro-cooperation with the INC) Communist Party of India (CPI). Both parties are quasi-identical nowadays. The CPI(M) holds 12 seats, while the CPI holds 3. The Janata Dal (Secular) holds one seat. In terms of local parties, the NDA-ally Federal Democratic Party holds one seat; a Muslim party holds one seat; and the Left-ally Kerala Congress, a Christian party, has one seat. There is one Independent.
Lakshadweep (1 MP): The Lakshadweep Islands off the west coast of India are a Union Territory with one MP. The seat is held by the Janata Dal (United), a BJP ally.
Madhya Pradesh (29 MPs): The central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is a BJP stronghold. In fact, the BJP holds 25 seats to the INC’s 4.
Maharashtra (48 MPs): India’s second most populous state and home to Mumbai, the central Indian state of Maharashtra is a swing state in Indian politics. The INC and BJP both hold 13 of the state’s 48 seats. The radical Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena (NDA) holds 12 seats, while the Nationalist Congress Party (UPA), a anti-Sonia Gandhi INC splitoff holds 9. A small Republican Party allied with the UPA has one seat.
Manipur (2 MPs): A small state in northeastern India with a sizeable Christian minority, Manipur has two MPs: one Congress, one Indie.
Megahalaya (2 MPs): Yet another small state in NE India, Megahalaya has a Christian majority (70%). It has Congress MP and one former NCP MP that joined the West Bengal-based All India Trinamool Congress (AITC).
Mizoram (1 MP): See Megahalaya. NE India, Christian. The current MP for the state represents the regionalist Mizo National Front (MNF, part of NDA). The MNF lost the 2008 state election to the INC in a landslide on the back of a strong anti-incumbency wave (anti-incumbency is high in India).
Nagaland (1 MP): See above. NE India, Christian. The current MP represents the regionalist Nagaland People’s Front (NPF, part of NDA).
Orissa (21 MPs): Orissa, on the east coast of India, is another state with a strong regionalist party. The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), allied to the BJP until this year, has joined the Third Front. In 2004, the BJD won 11 seats, against 7 for the BJP, 2 for the INC, and one of the JMM which I mentioned above (see Jharkhand).
Puducherry (1 MP): The former French territory of Puducherry/Pondichery has one MP, who represents the Tamil Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK, Third Front). I’ll talk about Tamil politics later when I get to Tamil Nadu.
Punjab (13 MPs): Punjab state in northeastern India has a Sikh majority. The Sikh Shiromani Akali Dal, a member of the NDA and ally of the BJP, holds 8 seats. The BJP has 3 seats, the INC has two.
Rajasthan (25 MPs): The state of Rajasthan, the largest state in terms of land area (but a lot of desert), is generally a BJP ‘safe’ state. The BJP won 21 seats in 2004, against 4 for the INC.
Sikkim (1 MP): Sikkim, a tiny state up there in the Himalayas is the least populated state in India. It has one MP, representing the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF, I think BJP ally, not sure though).
Tamil Nadu (39 MPs): Tamil politics are incomprehensible to the outside world, including me. So I’ll try my best to explain what I do understand. Parties, most of them regional Dravidian parties, don’t really seem to have ideologies, or if they do, it’s very minimal in actual political matters. Of the 39 MPs, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK-UPA) has 16 seats. The Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK-Third Front), formerly UPA, holds 4 seats. The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK, Third Front), formerly UPA, holds 5 seats. The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK, Third Front), formerly NDA, holds no seats. The AIADMK, however, is the second largest party in the State Assembly. Of the national parties, the INC has 10 seats, and the two Communist parties (CPI and CPIM) both hold two seats each. For reference, here are the results of the 2006 state election.
Tripura (2 MPs): Tripura is a small northeastern state in India, with a mostly Bengali (Hindu) population. The CPI(M) holds both seats.
Uttar Pradesh (80 MPs): With 80 seats in the Lok Sabha, the state of Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state (190 million people. Would be 5th most populated country in the world if independent!). Dominated in the past by the INC, Janata Dal, and later BJP, it is increasingly dominated by local parties. In 2004, the Samajwadi Party (SP), which is independent of coalitions nationally, won 35 seats. The SP’s support is mostly Muslim (18%) or in the lower castes (Dalits). The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is also a lower-caste party led by Mayawati, a dalit herself, but an opportunist more than anything else. The BSP, like so many Indian regional parties, has no ideology except for being Mayawati’s personal machine. The Economist, which understandably has no great love for the BSP or the Indian left (and is certainly biased), says that she is “masquerading as a promoter of dalit rights”. The BSP won only 19 seats in 2004, but the BSP won UP’s first majority government since 1991 in 2007, with Mayawati as Premier. Recently, the BSP has expanded to become a party for all Indian dalits, and this endeavour has been met with some success, based on recent state elections. The BSP, independent in 2004, is now a member of the Third Front and Mayawati is the unofficial leader of the coalition, with some even seeing her as India’s PM. In terms of national parties, the BJP has 10 seats, the INC has 9, and the JD (U) has one. The Jat-based Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) has three seats in alliance with the SP, The Muslim National Loktantrik Party (NLP) has one seat, the small Samajwadi Janata Party has one seat, and there is one Indie.
Uttarakhand (5 MPs): Uttarakhand, a northern state, has 5 MPs. The BJP holds 3 seats, while the INC and SP hold one each.
West Bengal (42 MPs): West Bengal in eastern India has been an historical base of Indian communism. The state was a base for  Naxalite, Marxist, and trade unionist movements; and has been ruled by the CPIM for three decades. The CPI(M) holds 26 seats, the INC holds six, and the CPI holds three. The All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) holds one seat, and is allied with the UPA. The All India Foward Bloc, a Communist ally, holds three seats. The Revolutionary Socialist Party, also a CPIM ally, holds one seat.

Voting takes place in five phases. If you’re interested, Wikipedia has a relatively decent page for the polling schedule.

Enough India for today. More stuff later this month.

Jammu and Kashmir 2008

Results for the state assembly elections were counted yesterday. Turnout was about 60%, despite calls by the nats to boycott the polls.

JKNC 28 (-)
PDP 20 (+4)
INC 17 (-3)
BJP 11 (+10)
Indies 4 (-9)
JKNPP 3 (-1)
CPI (M) 1 (-1)
People’s Democratic Front 1 (+1)
JK Democratic Party – Nationalist 1 (+1)
BSP 0 (-1)
JKAL 0 (-1)
DM 0 (-1)

The BJP gained a lot in Jammu, while the NC lost some ground there.

Haven’t followed it very closely, but from what I read on the interwebs, the JKNC (pro-India) and INC could form a government, which would have 45 seats. It could seek support from Indies and smaller parties to prop it up and ensure stability for the assembly’s full term. The Chief Minister would be Omar Abdhullah, the JKNC leader.

NDTV has an interactive Flash map with the results by constituency here.

Jammu and Kashmir 2008

Jammu and Kashmir (India) finished state elections yesterday. The election took 7 phases.

Jammu and Kashmir is 67% Muslim, and 97% in Kashmir. Jammu is 65% Hindu and 31% Muslim. Ladakh, which has the smallest population (2% of the total, against 54% in Kashmir and 44% in Jammu), is 47% Muslim and 46% Buddhist/others.

The last election took place in October 2002, and before that, in 1996.

JKNC 28.24% winning 28 seats
INC 24.24% winning 20 seats
PDP 9.28% winning 16 seats
Indies 16.50% winning 13 seats
JKNPP 3.83% winning 4 seats
CPI (M) 0.88% winning 2 seats
BJP 8.57% winning 1 seat
BSP 4.50% winning 1 seat
JKAL 0.91% winning 1 seat
DM 0.62% winning 1 seat

2002 map from the ECI

The INC formed a coalition government including the PDP and the JKNPP. However, the PDP left government in June 2008 and JK has been under President’s rule (an article in the Indian constitution allows the federal government to take over the state government when no clear majority can be formed).

There are 87 seats up for grabs, and 1,354 candidates in all.

India State Assemblies 2008

State assembly elections were held in five Indian states recently. The results were counted on December 7. A 6th state, Jammu and Kashmir are still voting in long elections and results will be tallied on the 27th. These elections were held after the Mumbai bombings, and the Hindu nats (BJP) tried to exploit it, but failed miserably. Not only did it not pickup anything anywhere but actually is on the way to lose control of Rajasthan to an INC-led coalition. It failed to pick up Delhi NCT, despite the INC all but giving it up a few days prior.

Delhi
INC 42 (-5)
BJP 23 (+3)
BSP 2 (+2)
LJSP 1 (+1)
Independents 1 (±0)
Others 0 (-2)

Rajasthan
INC 96 (+40)
BJP 78 (-42)
BSP 6 (+4)
CPI (M) 3 (+2)
JD (U) 1 (-1)
SP 1 (+1)
LSP 1 (+1)
Independents 14 (+1)
Other parties 0 (-6)

The 14 Independents are mostly INC members who lost the INC nomination and would likely support an INC government. INC gain

Madhya Pradesh (preliminary)
BJP 143 (-30)

INC 71 (+33)
BSP 7 (+5)
BJS 5 (+5)
SP 1 (-6)
Independent 3 (+1)
Other parties 0 (-8)

Chhattisgarh
BJP 50 (±0)
INC 38 (+1)
BSP 2 (±0)
NCP 0 (-1)

Mizoram
INC 32 (+20)
MNF 3 (-18)
MZPC 2 (-1)
ZNP 2 (±0)
MDF 1 (±0)
HPC 0 (-1)

Mizoram is a small Christian far-eastern state. The BJP is inexistent in the province. Landslide defeat for the Mizo National Front. INC gain

India is an example of how awful FPTP can be at times. The popular vote doesn’t always show the same picture here, really.

This is some good news for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the incumbent centre-left INC-dominated coalition for the national Lok Sabha elections in 2009. The BJP seems stronger than in 2004, but it lost allies everywhere (notably the BSP), many to the commie Left Front.

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