Tuesday, May 05, 2015

American thinktank predicts decline of Congress may mean advantage India's regional parties

By Our Representative
Top American thinktank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in its latest analysis, based on info-graphics, has said that unless the Congress is able to arrest its hasty decline, the party could be writing itself into electoral irrelevance. However, it suggests, on the basis of the current trend, that it may be advantage regional parties in states, and things may not favour BJP as much.
The analysis is significant, as it comes close on the heels of Gandhi-Nehru scion Rahul Gandhi making frantic personal effort to revive the party by directly approaching people as part of his effort to revive faith in Congress.
Titled "Where Has India’s Congress Party Gone?", and authored by Milan Vaishnav, well-known political analyst with the thinktank with the help of Will Hayes, a fellow, the explanations with the infographics point towards how Congress' both the seat share and voting percentage, whether it is Lok Sabha elections or assembly elections, have been showing steady decline over the last several decades.
Providing an infographic of voteshare and seatshare since 1952, the analysis says, "In the May 2014 general elections, Congress vote share sank to just 19.5 per cent which represents a nine percentage point drop from 2009". It adds, "The party's share in Lok Sabha (lower house in Parliament) fell to 8.1 per cent. Prior to 2014, the party had never won less than one-fifth of the seats of the Lok Sabha."
Pointing out that the trend has continued ever after the May 2014 general elections, the thinktank analysis says, "In the five state assembly elections held since May 2014 election, the Congress party experienced decisive defeats. With the sole exception of a modest vote increase in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, the Congress suffered heavy loss in seats and votes across the board."
Comparing Congress performance with that of the BJP, the thinktank says, the party's poor performance has gone to benefit its chief political opponent ever since May 2014, with the sole exception of Delhi, where the "upstart Aam Aadmi Party scored a massive win."
However, it says, it may not be so easy for the BJP, predicting, "While BJP may profit from a weakening of Congress in states where they are the top two parties, in fragmented, multi-party states, a hasty Congress decline could shift votes to the BJP's regional rivals".
The thinktank further seeks to explain how regional outfits are gaining. It says, since 2012, the Congress has "suffered a steady decline in its influence in the states, as illustrated by its shinking tally of state legislators. In 2014, the BJP's tally of MLAs overtook Congress'." Even then, the fact is, "A diverse collection of regional parties still account for the largest share of MLAs, with 53 per cent as of April 2015."
The thinktank says, in 2013, 14 of Indian states had Congress chief ministers, which dipped to nine in April 2015. On the other hand, the Congress controls "more states than ever before" -- eight. The nfographic here shows how regional outfits have the maximum number of chief ministers in India, despite a decline in the Congress and a simultaneous rise in the BJP.
The result of the Congress decline, the thinktank believes, would impact members of Parliament in the upper house, Rajya Sabha, where the Congress has 68 seats. As they are elected by state legislators, the thinktank says, here, the Congress could "endure a slow but steady erosion in its stature" in the Rajya Sabha. "in 2015-16, the terms of 23 Congress members of the Rajya Sabha will expire, while another 57 seats will also be up for grabs", it says.

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