Millennium Post

Congress might just get lucky

The four southern states, which had always played a crucial role in the formation of the government at the Centre, may not give a decisive verdict in favour of the UPA or the NDA this time because of the shrinking of both the fronts.  The Congress formed the UPA government in 2004 and 2009 with the blessings of the south while the NDA government too had its share from the southern states. 
Interestingly, both the national parties – the BJP as well as the Congress – are on their back foot as far as their electoral fortunes are concerned in view of the stronghold of regional parties and lack of arithmetic. The BJP is a minor player except in Karnataka. The triumph of the Congress in the 2009 polls was largely due to the Congress win in Andhra Pradesh, the DMK’s win in Tamil Nadu and NDA’s all round losses due to anti-incumbency. 

The 130 seats from the south are up for grabs. Andhra Pradesh has 42 seats – 17 in Telengana and 25 in Andhra Pradesh. It had been the citadel of the Congress even at its worst times.  The rise of the Telugu Desam led by late N T Rama Rao eclipsed the Congress for some time but the party won the state and contributed 29 seats to the UPA kitty in 2004 and 33 seats in 2009 wiping out the TDP. 
But the party had squandered the goodwill by bifurcation of the state with the result it may not get seats in Seemandhra. Its calculation regarding merger of the TRS with the Congress in Telengana has gone awry. The rise of three new parties may also affect the Congress prospects in Seemaandhra. The YSR Congress led by Jagan Mohan Reddy is all ready to challenge the Congress and pollsters predict 15 to 18 seats for YSR Congress. 

The Congress chief minister Kiran Reddy who opposed the move has launched his own outfit after the bifurcation. Pawan Kalyan, brother of Union Tourism minister and actor turned politician Chiranjeevi launched Jana Sena recently and the new party has decided not to contest elections .The TDP is making a desperate bid to come back and its alliance with the BJP is almost final, which should benefit both the parties. The TDP- BJP combine might get about ten seats.

In Tamil Nadu, the fight had always been between the two Dravidian parties – the DMK and the AIADMK. The Congress since it lost power in 1967, used to ride piggyback on either of them. But it is isolated this time and may not get any seat.  With the DMK facing internal quarrels and split in the DMK chief Karunanidhi’s family the AIADMK seems to be in a strong position poised to get about 25 to 30 seats.  The AIADMK is fighting alone for the first time since its inception.  Amma has announced a lot of freebees in her party manifesto and has provided good administration so far.  The DMK has tied up with smaller parties but rejected alliance with the Congress. The DMK may not cross single digit.  The BJP, which had not been able to make its presence with the forging five parties alliance in Tamil Nadu with DMDK, PMK and MDMK and the front may get four to five seats.  

The BJP won Karnataka for the first time in the south, and B S Yediyurappa formed the government in 2008 but bowed out soon due to corruption charges. The BJP completed its term facing many crisis but lost to the Congress in 2013 Assembly polls. This is perhaps the only state in the south from where the BJP hopes to get ten to 15 seats after the return of the prodigal son Yediyurappa. The fight is tough with six former chief ministers in the fray now. Of them, two each are from the 
Congress (Veerappa Moily and Dharam Singh), the BJP (Yeddyurappa and Sadananda Gowda) and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) Deve Gowda and his son Kumaraswamy. The new Aam Aadmi Party has also fielded candidates in all the 28 constituencies. The BJP bagged 19 of the 28 parliamentary seats in 2009 while the Congress got six and the JD-S three. Pollsters predict the Congress getting some 15 seats. The JD(S) might also bag one or two seats.

Kerala is a politically aware state and the Congress led UDF and the CPI-M led LDF have been alternating in power. The LDF seemed to have the edge sometime back, but the ruling UDF appears to have wrested the initiative for now because of the internal squabbles.  A smooth seat-sharing process with its allies and a political coup engineered by the UDF seems to have swung the pendulum in favour of the Congress. The optimists expect 12 to 14 seats while the rest may go to the other front. The BJP, for many years now, has remained an electoral non-entity and has not won a single seat in the Assembly.

All these go to show that the Congress may at best get about 30 to 35 seats from the south while the BJP may bag about 10 to 15 seats. The lack of arithmetic is going to hurt both the parties.
Amma might play a prominent role if the AIADMK bags 30 seats. Smaller parties like the 
TRS, YSR Congress, DMK, PMK, MDMK, DMDK, JD(S) and the left front could play a crucial role depending on the number of seats they get. With the prediction of a hung parliament all parties are 
keeping their options for a post poll scenario. IPA 
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