Power women key in final round of polls
In the final phase of polling on Monday, four women — Jayalalitha, Mamata Banerjee, Uma Bharti and Mayawati — will play a significant role in determining whether or not the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) crosses the magic figure of 272.
Of the 182 seats, the NDA had won 83 seats, the Congress 53, the Left Front 39 and others seven in 1999.
A large number of these seats will be decided by how these four leaders perform in their respective states. The NDA is banking heavily on the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu (39 seats), Uma Bharti in Madhya Pradesh (17 seats) and on Punjab (13), where the Congress currently has 8 seats.
In UP, Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party may not be an ally of the BJP, but her party's performance in the remaining 18 seats will determine the BJP's tally. It had won only seven of the 18 seats last time.
Besides, the ruling alliance had won 25 of 26 seats in Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal. With its alliances in Haryana and Himachal having come unstuck, it will find the going uphill. The four-way contest in Haryana could benefit the Congress. Its saturation majorities in Delhi and Uttaranchal could also be under threat.
The NDA did well in Tamil Nadu in 1999, winning 26 seats with an umbrella front led by the DMK and including the MDMK, MADMK and PMK. Now it has only the AIADMK for an ally, while the Congress and DMK have lined up a formidable alliance. It will be tough for the NDA to increase its seats, though it is notoriously difficult to make any predictions in this southern state.
West Bengal too will be a tough nut to crack. In 1999, Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress and the BJP had won 10 out of 42 seats in West Bengal. The BJP hardly has an organisational presence there and the Trinamool Congress too has a patchy party machinery. Together they will face an electoral machine that is as solid as it is experienced. Moreover, the anti-Left vote is likely to be split between the Congress and Trinamool.
In Kerala, which contributes 20 seats, the NDA's presence is tenuous and it is unlikely to make inroads either into the Congress-led UDF's votes or the CPI(M)-led LDF.
In trying to conserve her Dalit-Mislim base, has hurt Cong, helped BJP. Former (unpredictable) NDA ally
Recently reunited with NDA, her party’s performance (and her mood) will be crucial for the alliance
If she gets 8 seats (as in 99), the NDA will have to take her seriously, tantrums and all, as it scrounges for 272
Uma Bharti, MP
Swept state for BJP last year. Aggressive campaigner (150 plus meetings) could do the same in LS polls as well