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Outcome crucial for Cong, BJP; will influence national polls plan

Outcome crucial for Cong, BJP; will influence national polls plan
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First Published: Wed, Mar 18 2009. 04 09 AM IST

Updated: Wed, Mar 18 2009. 03 21 PM IST
New Delhi: Election results of five states that went to polls in November and December will be out on Monday and the outcomes will be crucial for the ruling Congress party and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in deciding strategies for the general election next year, observers said.
Elections were held for 230 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, 200 in Rajasthan, 90 in Chhattisgarh, 70 in Delhi and 40 in Mizoram.
“The assembly election results are crucial because the party (Congress) will decide the timing of the general election as well as its strategy (for campaigning) based on them,” said a senior Congress minister who didn’t want to be identified.
The BJP, which is in power in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, expects anti-incumbency against its governments to be overshadowed by issues such as terrorism, inflation and the economic crisis—for which the ruling coalition in New Delhi has come under severe criticism, especially after the Mumbai terrorist attack on 26 November that left at least 183 people dead and hundreds injured.
Some experts said the results will, in fact, reflect whether these issues played a big role in voting patterns.
Also Read our past coverage and build-up to the state election results.
G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, political analyst and psephologist who also writes a column for Mint, said: “If the BJP manages a clear majority in all the states, it would mean that the highlighted issues such as terrorism, inflation and the financial crisis have reflected in the voting. But if the Congress wins one or two states, it means they (electorate) had voted on local issues. However, this may not be an indication for all the states.”
Rao has, in his projections, given the BJP an edge in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and forecast a close fight in Delhi. He said the Mumbai attack may have motivated people, especially in urban areas, to go out and vote. “But... one has to wait and see if the BJP gets an advantage out of it.”
Although the BJP has attacked the federal coalition—United Progressive Alliance—for its “mismanagement of economy and failure in tackling the terror”, its state units had focused on development and other local issues in their election campaigns.
Political analyst B.G. Varghese said the outcome of state elections may not necessarily reflect possible trends in the next national polls. “The outcome will not necessarily be an indicator to what might happen in the next Lok Sabha elections. The two are separate things. The issues are different and so is the timing. Also, in the general elections, we would be looking at much larger numbers,” he said.
The BJP, which was in power at the Centre from 1999-2004, had called for an early general election encouraged by its victories in three state elections in December 2003. It suffered a defeat when the Congress emerged as the single largest party in the 2004 general election.
Rao, however, said the results will set the momentum in the run-up to the the Lok Sabha polls. “Election results are like cricket match—the winner gets all the momentum. If the BJP manages victory in four states, it will get the momentum and confidence to go for the Lok Sabha polls.”
liz.m@livemint.com
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First Published: Wed, Mar 18 2009. 04 09 AM IST