Just some state elections tidbits I picked after interacting with some MPs. Conversing with knowledgeable politicians is always a treat and the ongoing elections in various states was one of the issues I informally plumbed in discussions on the topic of the underway popularity contests. Two in particular may be of interest.
The Badals and the SAD/BJP combine are unlikely to be returned to power in Punjab, I was told, because of the scale of corruption the ruling Family indulged in in their ten years in the saddle. Consider one metric and a comparison with Tamil Nadu at the other end of the country. Punjab and Tamil Nadu have about equal number of liqour vends, around 1,600 in each state. However, the liqour consumption in Punjab is several multiples of the level of the hard stuff imbibed by the people of Tamil Nadu. But, and here’s the clincher, the Punjab exchequer last year reported only some Rs. 6,000 crores as revenue from liqour sales while the Tamil Nadu government in its budget showed liqour sales revenue in excess of Rs 28,000 crores!
Uttar Pradesh: BJP, I was informed, was in even play in the first three rounds of the ongoing elections in that state meaning, perhaps, a sub-par performance. But its game apparently picked up in subsequent rounds, and it expects much from eastern UP in the next few days. An awful lot of money has been spent by BJP to ensure there are adequate returns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s extensive touring of the state combined with some very intensive canvassing. Nothing less could have been expected with Modi’s reputation on the line, and his chief lieutenant, Amit Shah, pulling out all the stops.
The country awaits, no doubt with bated breath, the results on March 11. Of equal interest , to me at least, are the above two professional polictical assessments. If Badals somehow pull it off and Modi’s remorseless, often heated, campaigning pays dividend then the PM will get the majority he needs in the Rajya Sabha to ram through his pet programmes in the nick of time and will, almost certainly, be assured another 5 years at 7, Race Course Road, come 2019.