Northern comfort: on Congress’s win in Hindi heartland

Assembly Elections
The Congress’s performance in the Hindi heartland will enthuse it in the run-up to 2019
For a party that had appeared( दिखाई दिया ) to be lost in the political wilderness(सूना/जंगल) over the past few years, the Congress has plenty(खूब/समृद्धि) to cheer(उत्साहित/जय-जयकार) about following the results in the recent round of Assembly elections. In the three Hindi-speaking States, where it was locked in a direct contest with the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress has performed more than creditably(श्रेयपूर्वक), raising(उठाना/जुटाने) hopes(उम्मीदें/आशा) of a revival(पुनरजीवन) of fortunes as the country gears up for the general election in 2019. In Chhattisgarh, the party probably(शायद/संभवतया) well exceeded(अधिक होना/बढ़ती करना) even its own expectations by building a massive(बड़ा/विशाल) 10-percentage point lead over the BJP, setting itself up to win more than a two-thirds majority(बहुमत). The battle(लड़ाई/संग्राम) in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh were on a more even keel, but at the time of writing it appears that the Congress may have done enough to form a government in both States. A measure(सीमा/प्रमाण) of how much of a reversal(परिवर्तन/उलटाव) this is for the BJP can begauged(लगाया) by comparing(तुलना) this result with that of the 2014 Lok Sabha election, when the BJP won 62 of the 65 parliamentary seats in the three States. If the Congress struggled(संघर्ष किया) to breast the tape in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, it was because independents and smaller parties registered a few surprise victories; in Rajasthan, for instance(उदाहरण), more than a dozen independents were among the winners. If the results are interpreted(व्याख्या की) as pointers on how the 2019 election will play out, then the Congress may be still short of where it would like to be. But the results may well infuse the party leadership with the confidence that it is on the comeback trail.

The Congress’s performance in these States will take some of the sting out(अप्रिय स्थिति में सुधार करना) of its losses in Telangana and Mizoram, where it was bested by regional players. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi won big, making light of the broad alliance put together by the Congress. Indeed, the alliance(गठबंधन) between the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party may well have polarised (ध्रुवीकृत/फूट डालना)the contest in favour of the TRS. The TDP, which rules neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, is not exactly(पूरी तरह से ) a popular party in much of Telangana because of its vacillations(अस्थिरता/चंचलता) on the question of the creation(निर्मिति) of the new State. It is possible that the Congress was looking at the larger picture while deciding(निर्णायक) to ally with the TDP, seeing the regional party’s leader N. Chandrababu Naidu as a rallying point for Opposition unity. United Andhra Pradesh was one State that contributed(योगदान ) significantly to the Congress tally in both 2004 and 2009, and to be reduced(कम किया हुआ/बदला हुआ) to such pitiful(दयापूर्ण/तरस ) numbers in Telangana, with little room for improvement(सुधार की ) in Andhra Pradesh, should certainly(निश्चित रूप से) be a cause(कारण/वजह) for concern(चिंता) for the national leadership of the party. Winning an ally in the TDP is small recompense for the massive(भारी ) erosion(कटाव) in the Congress’s support base in the region. In Mizoram, where people vote against the Congress whenever the party is out of power at the Centre, the Mizo National Front was, unsurprisingly, the winner this time. But this defeat(हार) held another pain point: it saw the Congress losing its last citadel(गढ़ ) in the Northeast.

The best news for the Congress was of course Chhattisgarh. The presence(मौजूदगी) of a third front in the form of the Janta Congress Chhattisgarh, led by former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which took away a chunk of the anti-incumbency(विरोधी लहर) votes, did nothing to deny the Congress a big win. Chhattisgarh had voted overwhelmingly(अत्यधिक रूप से/घने) for the BJP in 2014, giving it 10 of the 11 seats, and the dramatic(नाटकीय )reversal(उलटाव/परिवर्तन) in fortunes must have shocked the BJP. But the Congress can also take heart from the performance in Madhya Pradesh, a much larger State that sends 29 members to the Lok Sabha. Although there was not much that separated(अलग किया) the two parties in terms of vote share, the Congress can reasonably(उचित) believe that the momentum(गति/चाल) is with it. In Rajasthan, where it performed stunningly(आश्चर्यजनक ) in by-elections, and where anti-incumbency sentiment was believed to be riding high, the Congress, despite(बावजूद/विरोध) its victory, may regard its own performance as sub-par. For the BJP, the setback in Rajasthan, which has not been kind to the incumbent(निर्भर/आश्रित) from 1998 onward, was no surprise. Despite conceding(स्वीकार करने /दिए) a substantial(पर्याप्त/मजबूत) number of Assembly seats, the party can take solace(धीरज/ संतुष्ट करना )from the fact that the difference in vote share between it and the Congress was minuscule. However, looking forward, the BJP will be worried that the results will encourage(प्रोत्साहित /बढ़ावा देना) the Congress and the BSP to come together in an electoral embrace(गले मिलना/शामिल करना). In Madhya Pradesh, the BSP has demonstrated(साबित) its strength(शक्ति/बल), or at the very least its capacity to be a spoiler. An alliance of the Samajwadi Party, the BSP and the Congress that extends beyond Uttar Pradesh to Madhya Pradesh can seriously alter the political landscape of the region.

As for the BJP, the results are an opportunity(अवसर/मौक़ा) to introspect(आत्मनिरीक्षण/अंतर्दर्शन ). Not just on the performance of its governments in the State, but also the performance of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. To reduce(कम करना) the results of the Hindi-speaking States to the intangible(अमूर्त/ न छूने योग्य) anti-incumbency sentiment would be a mistake. After all, both Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan survived two elections as incumbents. A potent mix of rural distress and urban(शहरी/नगर संबंधी) angst seem to have contributed to the erosion in the BJP’s support base. Farmers suffered(भुगतना/हानि होना) disproportionately(अनुपातहीन) and for longer following demonetisation, and small traders in urban areas have felt handicapped by the straitjacket of the Goods and Services Tax. It may be tempting(आकर्षक) to think that aggressive(आक्रामक) cow vigilantism and the Ram temple will influence(प्रतिष्ठा/प्रभाव) voter behaviour, but these elections underline it is livelihood concerns that really influence voter behaviour. The BJP will need to tackle issues of employment and development with better intent if it is to arrest the slide. The first term of a Prime Minister is won on promise, but the second term will have to be won on performance. Not even Narendra Modi is an exception(अपवाद/आपत्ति) to this.

Important Vocabulary

1. Plenty(खूब/समृद्धि) 
Synonyms: enough, good deal, luxury, plethora, quantity
Antonyms: lack, need, want, poorness, few

2. Revival(पुनरजीवन)
Synonyms: recovery, rejuvenation, renaissance, renewal, restoration, resurgence
Antonyms: destruction, killing, suppression

3. Creditably(श्रेयपूर्वक)
Synonyms: advantageously, attractively, creditably, extremely, gloriously
Antonyms: worst

4. Exceeded(अधिक होना/बढ़ती करना)
Synonyms: eclipse, outpace, outstrip, top, beat
Antonyms: fall behind, fail, lose, surrender, be inferior

5. Measure(सीमा/प्रमाण)
Synonyms: part, quota, allotment, allowance, amount
Antonyms:extreme, unimportance, whole, ignorance, inaction

6. Comparing(तुलना) 
Synonyms: analyze, contrast, correlate, equal, match
Antonyms: imbalance, aid, assist, combine, desegregate

7. Struggled(संघर्ष किया)
Synonyms: cope, seek, strive, tackle, toil
Antonyms: forget, idle, neglect, be lazy, ignore

8. Reversal(परिवर्तन/उलटाव)
Synonyms: U-turn, annulment, cancellation, repeal, switch
Antonyms: approval, enactment, validation

9. Gauged(लगाया)
Synonyms: appraise, ascertain, assess, calculate, calibrate
Antonyms: subtract

10. Battle(लड़ाई/संग्राम) 
Synonyms: action, assault, attack, bloodshed, bombing
Antonyms: accord, ceasefire, harmony, peace, retreat

11. Polarized (ध्रुवीकृत/फूट डालना)
Synonyms: contradictory, contrary, contrasted, converse, counter

12. Vacillations(अस्थिरता/चंचलता)
Synonyms: hesitation, doubt, hesitancy, inconstancy, indecision
Antonyms: certainty

13. Pitiful(दयापूर्ण/तरस )
Synonyms: dismal, distressing, insignificant, lamentable, miserable,
Antonyms: cheerful, fortunate, glad, good, happy

14. Certainly(निश्चित रूप से
Synonyms: absolutely, assuredly, exactly, surely, cert
Antonyms: doubtfully, questionably, dubiously

15. Defeat(हार)
Synonyms: beating, blow, breakdown, collapse, debacle
Antonyms: accomplishment, achievement, boon, success, win

16. Solace(धीरज/ संतुष्ट करना )
Synonyms: condolence, consolation, pity, alleviation, assuagement
Antonyms: discord, disharmony

17. Stunningly(आश्चर्यजनक ) 
Synonyms: admirably, amazingly, beautifully, extraordinarily, magnificently
Antonyms: badly, poorly

18. Demonstrated(साबित)
Synonyms: determine, establish, exhibit, expose, indicate
Antonyms: conceal, cover, disprove, hide, confuse

19.Intangible(अमूर्त/ न छूने योग्य) 
Synonyms: ethereal, unreal, abstract, eluding, hypothetical
Antonyms: factual, real, definite, obvious, palpable

20. Tempting(आकर्षक)
Synonyms: appetizing, attractive, enticing, fascinating, heavenly
Antonyms: distasteful, repulsive, ugly, repellent, disenchanting

21. Suffered(भुगतना/हानि होना) 
Synonyms: deteriorate, endure, experience, get, go through
Antonyms: calm, please, soothe, surrender, yield




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