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Tuesday, May 04, 2004


Indian Elections - How does it look on May 4th, 2004

With the 3rd phase of polling (one more to go after this... May 10th) about to commence in a few hours the political climate is both exciting and ambigious. The latter is feeding the former. 84 parliamentary contests will be decided. Prime Minister Vajpayee's electoral fortunes too will be on the line. One contest to watch will be between the flamboyant, controversial and outspoken Laloo Prasad Yadav and his past friend but current foe Sharad Yadav. Laloo could be a player in the formation of the next government.

Latest polls so far are projecting the BJP and allies mustering 245-265 seats. Falling short of the 272 majority mark. The Congress and its allies are expected end up very close to the 200 mark. May pass it. But exit polls have been the real story of these elections and they have greatly corrected blanket speculations. The exit polls from tomorrow's polling will be significant and if this stays a close race the pressure on the last phase is going to be immense.

The seats up for grabs in tomorrow's phase have the potential of determining the national outcome. They are in crucial states. States where the BJP did well last time and this time will be struggling to maintain that performance. The Congress and its allies will be hoping to make serious gains. If they do then they will have a fighting chance at the national level. UP will be most important of them all. The Congress was decimated last time winning only 10 seats out of 85. I expect them to do better than that. The bottomline in tomorrow's contest is how decisive will the shift be? If there is a minor adjustment in seat distribution then not much is going to change at the national level. But if the BJP (currently 29) loses double-digit seats in UP and suffers losses in Rajasthan, MP and Bihar then no outcome is certain at the national level.

Much focus, as expected, is currently on the statistical outcome of this election. In my next post I will talk about what I feel will be the policy impact of some possible outcomes. Read on...

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