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Anticipated Mandate


The results of the three-tier Panchayat Polls were in the process of being announced in Uttarakhand on Monday, even as polling took place in Maharashtra and Haryana for the state assemblies. Also, voters exercised their franchise in as many as 51 bypolls across the country, including 11 in UP. While the opinion polls have heavily favoured the BJP in Haryana and Maharashtra, and the exit polls will make things clearer, it is also true that the voter always like to put a special twist to the mandate. It might come in Uttarakhand, or in the bypolls, but it will signal to the political parties how policies are to be tweaked to accommodate the people’s wishes. Parties capable of reading the mandate will do better in the future, while those unable to do so for whatever reasons will languish. It is being reported that turnout has not been too healthy in Maharashtra and in the bypolls, which is always an advantage for the underdog. This is because the motivation for many is low if they do not feel too involved with the issues while, on a Monday, others may simply have work to do. This lowers the margin of victory. While, a decisive mandate is good overall for the assemblies, it does help if local and other issues prevail in individual constituencies so that young and upcoming politicians get a look into the lawmaking process. It is the general belief that a united opposition would pose a better challenge to the current domination of the BJP in UP. This is not necessarily true, as seen in the last Lok Sabha election. The BJP is the party of second preference for the majority of opposition voters. This means an SP supporter is likely to vote for the BJP if the ‘common’ opposition candidate is from the BSP. And, vice versa! If, however, it is a multi-cornered contest, each party takes away its share of the votes, making it a closer contest between number one and two. This is exactly why panchayat elections have a larger success rate for opposition and independent candidates. Experts will have a field day analysing the results of the latest rounds of elections as all these factors will be in play. However, whichever direction the wind blows, it would be a mistake to simply project it on to the national level, where additional factors are also at play. It will require some special insight to read what the underlying message is and, if done properly, would help the nation know its own mind.