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Polls and promises

In April and May elections to state assemblies have been held in Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. In Assam, the contest was between the two major national parties, the BJP and the Congress. In West Bengal, there was a strange alliance between the Left parties and the Congress fighting the incumbent Trinamool Congress with BJP pitching its claim.

In Kerala, one witnessed the traditional grouping of several parties led by the Congress and several others by the CPM. With the unflattering record of the Oommen Chandy-led United Democratic Front, the incumbent, there had been a strong anti-incumbency factor to power shifting again to the LDF.

One witnessed the strange scene: with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi working along with the Communists as alliance partners in West Bengal and liberally criticising the Communists in Kerala! BJP, which did not have a strong base in Kerala, has worked hard to make inroads into Kerala’s electoral politics and started with its first victory.

In Tamil Nadu the well-worn strategy of the two leading Dravidian parties, the DMK, and the AIADMK, forming strong alliances to contest, did not take place this time. AIADMK, buoyed by its resounding success of going alone in the Lok Sabha polls, opted to do likewise. The attempts made by the DMK to bring together parties opposed to the AIADMK under its umbrella, did not succeed. The state thus witnessed five-cornered contests: DMK-Congress, AIADMK, the MDMK led front of five parties, PMK and the BJP.

The two major Dravidian parties have been thriving on the promise of liberal freebies as also on cash for votes. Even with the state’s economy not in great shape, they continued promising freebies, with unclear explanations on budget provisions. But the Tamil Nadu voter doesn’t seem to bother about the poor state of the state’s finances.

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