The landslide victory of Ms J. Jayalalithaa's AIADMK in Tamil Nadu and the storming of the Red bastion in West Bengal by Ms Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress are more than anti-establishment verdicts. Of course, they have a lot to do with the incumbent governments failing to live up to people's expectations.
But the astounding fury with which the people of Tamil Nadu and West Bengal trounced their incumbent governments has a larger message.
In Tamil Nadu, the simmering anger over rampant corruption and brazen promotion of Mr M. Karunanidhi's family for five years crystallised around the 2G scam.
As it became impossible for the UPA-II Government to shield the former Telecom Minister, Mr A. Raja, close to the Karunanidhi family, and justice caught up with him and his cronies in the largest ever scam, Ms Jayalalithaa could sniff victory.
Jaya's invite to Congress ignored
That was the time she threw the gauntlet to the Congress, invited it to “dump” the corrupt DMK and offered support to keep alive the UPA-II Government.
But the Congress ignored the invitation for two reasons; the tempestuous Ms Jayalalithaa — as indeed Mamata Didi — is not an easy ally. Both the Congress and the BJP know that only too well!
Second, she had antagonised the Congress chief, Ms Sonia Gandhi, by not only allying with the BJP, but also questioning her Italian origin, addressing her by her maiden name ‘Sonia Antonia Maino' at election rallies.
Women politicians, Ms Jayalalithaa included, do not forget such personal affronts; they might tolerate attacks against the party but personal insults are rarely forgiven.
And, with no immediate danger to the UPA-II Government, the Congress snubbed her, making the convenient, though unwise, decision to stick to the time-tested DMK, which was fast sinking in the monumental 2G corruption saga.
As the Niira Radia tapes surfaced, demolishing countless reputations, tightening the noose around Mr Raja and further implicating the Karunanidhi family members, the Tamil Nadu electorate must have made up its mind.
The Hazare storm
And, then, barely a week before the polling date came the announcement of the fast-unto-death against corruption by Anna Hazare, which touched a raw nerve in the entire nation.
It galvanised and energised the people hitherto helplessly watching taxpayer money being looted by their leaders. It showed the power of the aam admi .
To say the Tamil Nadu voters were angry with the DMK, particularly the Karunanidhi family, is an understatement. Ms Jayalalithaa's landslide victory and the ease with which the AIADMK will be able to form the government on its own, show that it was an outrage nobody was able to read. Least of all the media, with its guarded/sober forecasts of “too close to call”. But this isn't the first time the media has been made to eat humble pie!
Credit also goes to Ms Jayalithaa for swallowing her pride and sewing up the AIADMK alliance, especially with the DMDK, at the nth hour.
Both parties have gained big by the alliance. At the other end, this election result also proves that when there is a wave, be it of sympathy as after Rajiv Gandhi's assassination in 1991, or now, against corruption and a single family extending its tentacles to grab power and pelf wherever available, poll arithmetic does not work.
The DMK had poll arithmetic on its side with two major allies — the Congress and the PMK — but came a cropper.
Is it bad news for the Congress? Not really; in Tamil Nadu, it was never in the reckoning and might even be happy that a trounced DMK, which still has an invaluable 18 MPs in Lok Sabha, will not wag its tail. Losing power at the Centre, as well as in Tamil Nadu, would be disastrous and trigger nightmares of dark dungeons and darker futures.
Left lost the plot
As for the Left, it had lost the plot even during the UPA-I period when Mr Prakash Karat & Co went on the warpath on the India-US nuclear deal. Added to it was the violence unleashed in both Singur and Nandigram, where Ms Banerjee emerged as saviour, rounded off with the lack of any vibrant development in West Bengal for long years.
It's still early days though to bank on the Bengali Didi's spectacular vision on the development front. After all, she did force the Nano project out of Bengal!
The Left, however, did put up a brave fight in Kerala, yielding only a slim majority to the UDF; so it did manage to substantially battle the incumbency trend.
Some analysts have talked of “woman power” emerging from this election. But such majestic sweeps for both the heroines in this saga come with dangers attached, as their track records clearly show. But these can be spelt out later. Today, they deserve full credit for feisty fights against formidable foes.
The first signs were positive enough; the initial bytes of both Ms Jayalalithaa and Ms Banerjee were measured and subdued enough to give hope they have matured as political leaders and will not let down their electorate.