Lok Sabha Elections and Surprised Results

·         When PM Gandhi expected to win 340 seats, she lost her own seat!

·         PM Vajpayee’s “India Shining” campaign doomed him in year 2004

Dr.Hari Desai writes weekly column “Heritage History” for “Asian Voice”, the Newsweekly of ABPL Group, London 4-10 May 2019. Web Link : https://bit.ly/2JfbLRg  

Lok Sabha Elections and Surprised Results
When PM Gandhi expected to win 340 seats, she lost her own seat!
PM Vajpayee’s “India Shining” campaign doomed him in year 2004
Dr. Hari Desai
The results of the Indian elections of 17th Lok Sabha are expected to be declared on 23 May 2019 and it is most likely that the present Prime Minister Narendra Modi would form the Union government again. Of course, Indian elections are known to give surprises  though not many. One such surprise came to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi  as a shock in March 1977 when the results of the 6th Lok Sabha elections were announced and another occasion was in May 2004 when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s “India Shining” campaign lost. On both the occasions, the blame-game started: for the defeat in 1977, the PM’s son and a villain of the  Emergency, Sanjay Gandhi, was being blamed who was mostly responsible for the excesses of the Emergency. For Vajpayee’s defeat the blame was passed on to his blue-eyed boy, Pramod Mahajan.
IG called the 1977 Lok Sabha elections after being told by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) that she would win up to 340 seats, according to R.K. Dhawan, IG’s trusted  private secretary. Of course, even after losing the 1977 elections, the Congress could win 154 seats in the House of 545 where as the newly formed Janata Party with merging Bharatiya Lok Dal (BLD), Congress (O), Jan Sangh and other parties could muster 295 seats facilitating the election of  Morarji Desai of Congress (O) as the Prime Minister. Chaudhary Charan Singh of BLD as well as  Jagjivan Ram of Congress for Democracy were made the Deputy Prime Ministers. Not only PM Indira Gandhi but even  her MP son Sanjay Gandhi lost from Rae Bareilly and Amethi respectively. Since southern States supported her, she chose to contest the bye-election of Chikmangalur in Karnataka to enter the Lok Sabha. Indira Gandhi’s Congress bounced back in 1980 with thumping majority of 374 of 542 and could capture power not only at the Centre but also in most of the States.
Prime Minister Vajpayee  called the Lok Sabha elections six months early and used an “India Shining” slogan during his campaign in the hope that the feel-good factor among voters would return him to office. But the voters who took part in the poll appeared to have been put off by what many believed was a smug campaign. “They did not rally to his personal attack on Sonia Gandhi  for being born in Italy and India’s rural majority have been left behind by the economic boom which has been largely confined to the urban middle classes,” reported  The Telegraph of London. Despite Congress winning  just 145 and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) headed by Sonia Gandhi  only 218, the Congress led UPA could keep BJP (138) led NDA (185) away from forming the government. Dr. Manmohan Singh was elected as the leader of the House and became the PM for the first time. He was earlier the Finance Minister responsible for  privatization, liberalization and globalization in 1991-95 Congress led minority government headed by P.V. Narsimha Rao.
In 2009, the Congress led-UPA could again form the government at the Centre with Congress winning just 206 seats and UPA only 10 short of majority i.e. 262. Dr. Manmohan Singh was sworn in as PM again with outside support of Samajwadi Party (23), Bahujan Samaj Party ( 21 ), Rashtriya Janata Dal ( 4), Janata Dal –Secular (3) and 3 other members. In May 2014, the Congress-led UPA-II got a sever set-back since none from UPA matched the firebrand Prime Ministerial candidate of NDA and Narendra Modi led his BJP to win 282 seats, 10 more than majority in the House  though keeping the NDA (336)  partners intact in the coalition government. This time he  has to pass a litmus test.
Next Column: Gimmicks to win Indian elections                   
(The writer is a Socio-political Historian. E-mail: haridesai@gmail.com )

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