News / Asia

West Bengal Vote Ends 34 Years of Communist Rule

Supporters of the Trinamool Congress party, an ally to India's the ruling Congress Party, hold election billboards featuring portraits of party leader Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata, India, May 13, 2011.
Supporters of the Trinamool Congress party, an ally to India's the ruling Congress Party, hold election billboards featuring portraits of party leader Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata, India, May 13, 2011.

India’s Congress Party, which heads the ruling coalition, has notched up some significant victories in a crucial round of regional elections. The results give a much-needed boost to the ruling party, whose image has been dented by massive corruption scandals.     

The governing Congress Party and a crucial ally fared well in three out of the five states which went to the polls recently to choose local governments.   

The Congress Party retained power in remote northeastern Assam state, and won a narrow victory over communist parties in the southern Kerala state. But it lost ground in the small southern state of Pondicherry.

Watch related Kurt Achin video report

However the focus remained on two key regional allies, who play an important role in propping up the federal coalition.   

In West Bengal state, a Congress Party ally, the Trinamool Congress, swept to power after inflicting a crushing defeat on communist parties, thereby ending its three-decade reign.

But another important ally, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)suffered a huge reversal in southern Tamil Nadu state. The defeat is being attributed to anger among voters over a massive corruption scam involving a former federal minister from the DMK.

Political analysts say the results in Tamil Nadu should be a message to the Congress Party, whose image is also tainted by corruption scandals, that demands for clean governance are growing.

However, telecommunication minister and a senior leader of the Congress Party, Kapil Sibal, downplayed the impact of public anger over the issue of corruption.  

“These are regional elections and the issues are regional," Sibal said. "Corruption would be an issue, but it is far beyond corruption as well.”

Congress Party leaders said they are satisfied with the results because voters have reaffirmed their faith in the party.

The outcome will give a brief respite to the Congress Party, whose second term in office has been marked with growing protests by both opposition parties and the public demanding that the government do more to address issues of corruption and rising prices.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee called the elections a vote for stability.  

“For the last one year, efforts were made to destabilize, not only the government, but through the process of destabilizing the government, destabilize the system, and bring instability in the country," he said. "From that point of view this election has conveyed a very clear message.”

The reversal suffered by communist parties in their bastions of Kerala and West Bengal could also give the Congress-led government more leverage to press ahead with economic reforms.

With voters throwing out four of the five governments in the states which went to the polls, political analysts say the elections also underline the growing demands for better governance and development in India.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.

All About America