(Article) 15th Loksabha Election Coalition Government Formed with New Hope and Ambition

15th Loksabha Election

Coalition Government Formed with New Hope and Ambition

By : R.K. Pandey

The result of 15th Lok Sabha was declared on May 17, 2009. Actual result was very different from all predictions and exit poll. It proved all survey false and unrealistic. The UPA’s tally reached 262 seats, with the Congress itself accounting for 206 of them. There is huge gap between it and its nearest rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The NDA got only 157 seats, with the BJP’s own score being 116. The non-Congress, non-BJP formation was reduced to 72. The Fourth Front, which sought to develop a separate political identity in order to enhance its bargaining power with the Congress and the UPA in a post-poll situation, was also brought down, to just 27 seats. Obviously, this result went contrary to the perceptions that held sway among the political class and observers throughout the election process.

The main perception was about a hopelessly hung Parliament. Even the Congress, which now basking in the glory of a spectacular victory, had shared this view and gone about looking for new allies for a post-poll scenario. That search had even taken it to the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United), which has been a consistent partner in the NDA for the past decade and a half. Midway through the process, Sharad Pawar, UPA Minister and president of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), made bold to predict that the Congress would get 150 to 160 seats and that the UPA would have to take the support of the Left parties to form the government.

Historic win : In recent past, no single party crossed the number 200, so winning 2006 seats by Congress on its own makes a historic victory. When we observe situation immediate before voting, we find that there were many challenges before congress. Congress picked up an alliance on the eve of the election in West Bengal. But two of the participating parties, the RJD and LJSP, parted on the issue of seat-shares in Bihar. The Samajwadi Party in UP, which had joined the coalition late on the crucial issue of the Indo-American nuclear power deal to save the coalition from collapse, also separated on the same issue. Members of the Bihar party pleaded that they remained committed to the UPA and continued to be in the Ministry.

If Verdict 2009 were to be summed up in a short phrase, this is it. Large sections of the electorate across the country voted to bring back the regime of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and brought it within striking distance of the simple-majority mark of 272. Though the numbers thrown up by the results would, technically, imply a hung Parliament, there is little doubt about the mandate given to the Manmohan Singh led government to run its course for five years, without too many pressures and problems from smaller parties and allies. The message was very clear, that role of regional and smaller parties in the 15th Lok Sabha, and through it in the formation of the new government was minimised. The verdict was such that the UPA had the opportunity to form the government by choosing its allies at its own will and convenience and, at a pinch, even with the support of independents who do not have specific political affiliations.

Winning Factors: The primary factor was the view among large sections of the electorate that only the Congress can provide a stable, secular government. The second factor relates to the track record of the Manmohan Singh government, particularly its social sector initiatives such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) and the bank loan waiver. The third crucial factor was the shift of the Muslim vote towards the Congress in the Hindi heartland in general and in Uttar Pradesh in particular. That the election issues highlighted by the NDA, such as internal security and the bringing back of black money from Swiss banks, failed to generate popular appeal was also a factor. The internal security plank fell flat because the earlier NDA regimes had also witnessed several internal security challenges that were not countered properly, such as the attack on the Parliament House and the Kandahar hijack. The leadership provided by Sonia Gandhi to the Congress and the UPA as a whole was also a factor that raised the UPA’s prospects.

The Rahul Gandhi effect supplemented this, especially in Uttar Pradesh. Finally, the presence of several regional spoilers, who took the form of new political parties and essentially weakened the adversaries of the UPA, also helped produce this verdict. The BJP campaign for the elections was particularly non-productive. The party sent mixed signals even on its leadership by projecting Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a potential Prime Minister midway through the elections. This caused great humiliation even to Lal Krishna Advani. The manner in which Advani condoned Varun Gandhi’s communal utterances in Pilibhit also did not go down well with the electorate. The open tussle between party president Rajnath Singh and general secretary Arun Jaitley over the organisational preparations for the elections in Assam and some of the caustic comments made on Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh by Modi and other leaders also boomeranged.

As a result, the larger Congress win was on negative vote more than on positive vote. A reason why the party is strongly focusing on the personality of Rahul Gandhi is just that. Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and even Priyanka Vadra have been played up much by the national media as well. There is heavy investment in propping up the dynasty and strengthening the case for dynastic succession. It is difficult to judge how much contribution has really been made by these and other personalities to the Congress victory. The image of the Congress party with very limited talent has been strengthened by the outcome of this election. There is no doubt that the BJP has proved incompetent in focusing on more real issues and wasting much less energy in negative campaigning. Its dividend from a socially divisive agenda cannot go up any further. And its loss from diminishing return has given that bit of extra mileage to the Congress. It should not be ignored that these two parties are pursuing a common agenda of promoting a two-party system in which they should be the two poles. The negative campaigning of the BJP has served that objective well.

Facts on 15th Loksahba Election

» The highest number of candidates that an EVM can support is 64 and if the number exceeds this, the commission will have to use manual ballot for elections.

» The EVMs are designed by Electronics Corporation of India Ltd. and Bharat Electronics Ltd. EVMs were first used in India 1989-90 in 16 assembly constituencies in three states. Kerala was the first state.

» The Government spends Rs. 10 crore approximately on conducting a Lok Sabha election.
» Photo electoral roll was used in 522 Parliamentary seats in 2009 elections.
» The number of electorate in 2009 general elections was 71.377 crore with an increase of 4.3 crore from the 2004 general elections.

» Total number of candidates was 8070.
» 7514 was male candidates: while number of female candidates was 556.
» Percentage of female candidates was 6.9 % of total candidates.
» The number of polling stations were 8,34,944 in 2009.
There were 2046 observers and 1.4 lakh micro-observers in 2009.
» The total number of polling staffs was 46.9 lakh.
» Total number of Booth Level Officers (BLO) was 8.34 lakh.

» Highest number of candidates was 43 in Chennai South, Tamil Nadu while lowest number of candidates was 3 in Nagaland.
» Highest polling station was AuleyPhu in Leh. It was setup at an altitude of 15,300ft.

» Number of seats in the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament): 545 (of which two are appointed by the President) Moni Kumar Subba, the Congress candidate for the Tezpur LS seat, was the richest candidate in the poll fray in Assam. He has declared assets worth Rs 60 crore.

» For the first time, a women battalion of the Shashtra Seema Bal was deployed along the Indo-Nepal border in Uttar Pradesh during the Lok Sabha elections.

» Danseuse Mallika Sarabhai, who was contesting as an Independent from the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat, had challenged her opponent L.K.Advani to a public debate on his achievements.

General Elections in India
The Constitution of India came into force on January 26, 1950. The first general, elections under the new Constitution were held during the year 1951-52 and the first elected Parliament came into being in April, 1952, the Second Lok Sabha in April,1957, the Third Lok Sabha in April,1962, the Fourth Lok Sabha in March, 1967, the Fifth Lok Sabha in March, 1971, the Sixth Lok Sabha in March, 1977, the Seventh Lok Sabha in January,1980, the Eighth Lok Sabha in December, 1984, the Ninth Lok Sabha in December, 1989, the Tenth Lok Sabha in June, 1991, the Eleventh Lok Sabha in May, 1996, the Twelfth Lok Sabha in March, 1998, the Thirteenth Lok Sabha in October, 1999, the Fourteenth Lok Sabha in May, 2004 and the Fifteenth Lok Sabha in May, 2009.

New Government: Dr Manmohan Singh was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India for the second consecutive term along with his 19 Cabinet colleagues at a simple and brief function at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on May 22. Thus he become the first prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961 to be elected to another five year term after completing his first Jawaharlal Nehru was re-elected in 1962. There were four new faces in the first edition of the Union Cabinet. All the others were in the outgoing Cabinet. All but two were from the Congress party.

Among the new entrants in the Cabinet were Mamata Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress leader who trounced the Communists in West Bengal, Rajasthan Congress unit president CP Joshi, Congress general secretary M Veerappa Moily, and former Karnataka chief minister S M Krishna. The new Cabinet of the Congress-led UPA Government is a mix of the old and the new, reflecting Manmohan Singh’s experience and the youthfulness. Agatha Sangma, the daughter of former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma, is the youngest minister in the Manmohan Singh cabinet at the age of 28 years. Jitin Prasada of Congress, who was the minister of state for steel, was the youngest minister in the previous UPA government at 35 years of age.

Council of Ministers

  • Dr Manmohan Singh : Prime Minister

  • Shri Pranab Mukherjee : Minister of Finance

  • Shri Sharad Pawar : Minister of Agriculture, Food & Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution

  • Shri A. K. Antony : Minister of Defence

  • Shri P. Chidambaram : Minister of Home Affairs

  • Kum. Mamata Banerjee : Minister of Railways

  • Shri S. M. Krishna : Minister of External Affairs

  • Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad : Minister of Health and Family Welfare

  • Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde : Minister of Power

  • Shri M. Veerappa Moily : Minister of Law and Justice

  • Shri S. Jaipal Reddy : Minister of Urban Development

  • Shri Kamal Nath : Minister of Road Transport and Highways

  • Shri Vayalar Ravi : Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs

  • Smt. Meira Kumar : Minister of Water Resources

  • Shri Murli Deora : Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas

  • Shri Kapil Sibal : Minister of Human Resource Development

  • Smt. Ambika Soni : Minister of Information and Broadcasting

  • Shri B. K. Handique : Minister of Mines : Minister of Development of North Eastern Region

  • Shri Anand Sharma : Minister of Commerce and Industry

  • Shri Virbhadra Singh : Minister of Steel

  • Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh : Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises

  • Shri C. P. Joshi : Minister of Rural Development : Minister of Panchayati Raj

  • Kum. Selja : Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation & Minister of Tourism

  • Shri Subodh Kant Sahay : Minister of Food Processing Industries

  • Dr. M. S. Gill : Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports

  • Shri G. K. Vasan : Minister of Shipping

  • Shri Dayanidhi Maran : Minister of Textiles

  • Dr. Farooq Abdullah : Minister of New and Renewable Energy

  • Shri Mallikarjun Kharge : Minister of Labour and Employment

  • Shri Pawan K. Bansal : Minister of Parliamentary Affairs

  • Shri Mukul Wasnik : Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment

  • Shri Kantilal Bhuria : Minister of Tribal Affairs

  • Shri M. K. Alagiri : Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers

  • Shri A Raja : Minister of Communications and Information Technology

Lok Sabha:-
Lok Sabha is composed of representative of the people chosen by direct election on the basis of adult suffrage. The qualifying age for membership of Lok Sabha is 25 years. The Lok Sabha at present consists of 545 members including the Speaker and two nominated members. Lok Sabha, unless sooner dissolved, continues for five years from the date appointed for its first meeting and the expiration of the period of five years operates as dissolution of the House.

However, while a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, this period may be extended by Parliament by law for a period not exceeding one year at a time and not extending, in any case, beyond a period of six months after the proclamation has ceased to operate. The maximum strength of the House envisaged by the Constitution is 552, upto 530 members to represent the States, up to 20 members to represent the Union Territories and not more than two members of the Anglo-Indian Community to be nominated by the President, if, in his opinion, that community is not adequately represented in the House.

The total elective membership is distributed among the States in such a way that the ratio between the number of seats allotted to each State and the population of the State is, so far as practicable, the same for all States. An exercise to redraw Lok Sabha constituencies' boundaries has been carried out by the Delimitation Commission based on the Indian census of 2001. The number is divided among the 28 States and the 7 Union Territories as follows:-

Seats in States and Union Territories:-

» Uttar Pradesh - 80
» Maharashtra - 48
» Andhra Pradesh - 42
» West Bengal - 42
» Bihar - 40
» Tamil Nadu –39
» Madhya Pradesh - 29
» Karnataka - 28
» Gujarat - 26
» Rajasthan - 25
» Orissa - 21
» Kerala - 20
» Jharkhand - 14
» Assam -14
» Punjab - 13
» Chhattisgarh - 11
» Haryana - 10
» Delhi - 7
» Jammu & Kashmir - 6
» Uttarakhand - 5
» Himachal Pradesh - 4
» Arunachal Pradesh - 2
» Goa - 2
» Manipur - 2
» Meghalaya - 2
» Sikkim - 1
» Mizoram - 1
» Nagaland - 1
» Tripura - 2
» Andaman & Nicobar Islands - 1
» Chandigarh - 1
» Dadra & Nagar Haveli - 1
» Daman & Diu - 1
» Lakshadweep - 1
» Pondicherry -1