The Congress and the Left parties have more at stake than the Bharatiya Janata Party in the elections to the five Assemblies, results of which will be out on Thursday.
While the Congress is defending the governments it leads in Assam and Kerala, the Left parties have a major presence in Kerala and West Bengal. The BJP, on the other hand, has nothing to lose — only something to gain, a government in Assam.
Indeed, electoral success for the Congress and the Left could act as a springboard for the revival they have both been striving so hard for, especially since the general election of 2014.
For the BJP, however, a possible victory in Assam will not just wipe out the dark memories of defeat in last year’s Assembly polls in Delhi and Bihar, but give it a boost as it readies itself for the key contest in the country’s most populous State, Uttar Pradesh, early next year.
Congress sources said that if the party can retain either Assam or Kerala and be part of the winning combine either in West Bengal or Tamil Nadu, there will be an immediate call to make Rahul Gandhi party president.
But if the party fails to retain even one State, the murmursof discontent will surface again.
The Left parties need at least one victory, either in Kerala or West Bengal, to remain relevant. But while a defeat in Kerala can be put down to a spike in the BJP’s votes or a secret understanding between the Congress and the BJP as has been alleged publicly by Left leaders, another electoral loss in West Bengal will not be regarded very kindly. There has been a degree of discomfort in the CPI(M) with the sharing of seats with the Congress and, in many cases, sharing a platform with that party’s leaders.
In any case, the election’s results — whatever they are — will be discussed at the party’s central committee meeting slated for May 22-23. Success in both States will help send CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury’s stock shooting up; failure will see him facing more opposition within the party.
As for the regional parties, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s political future will hinge on these elections. A victory will be a validation of her regime, strengthen her position and police officers who adopted a neutral position after the Election Commission took charge, will face her wrath. A defeat could well see a revolt in her party, as her authoritarian style has not endeared her to many of her colleagues.
A win for Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK will not only establish her supremacy but put the spotlight on a DMK in decay, with its leader M. Karunanidhi — now in his nineties losing grip. A triumph for the DMKCongress alliance — that is arithmetically weaker than the AIADMK — will demonstrate that the transition of power has taken place successfully in the party, with the baton passing from Mr. Karunanidhi to his chosen successor and son, Stalin.