Dubai: Several Indian expats from the states where assembly elections were held last month spent time glued on to news about the election results that were released as live updates on Sunday.
Elections were held in West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam — and the Union Territory of Puducherry. Speaking to Gulf News, expats from some of these states expressed their comments about the election results in their states and what they are looking forward to from the new governments.
Here is what they said.
Dr Subhajyoti Ray, Director, IMT Dubai: “Historically, in Bengal it has been “winner takes all”, so the gap between TMC and BJP is not surprising. It is indeed great news for TMC supporters, but one must equally acknowledge the leaps BJP has taken. The future of Bengal is better with a stronger opposition.
"To win elections, the campaign must not only resonate with the masses, but that has to be accompanied with equal fervor in execution at the grassroots level. On both counts, the winner has done a better job than the runners up. Is there a better grassroots leader than Mamata Banerjee in Bengal?
In between the campaign “Bahiragata” [from outside] became a dominant discourse and that is when the game was handed over to the TMC. The TMC supremo not only represented the liberated women of Bengal, but also the daughter of the soil. The might of BJP against a sole woman fighter would have also accumulated a lot of sympathy for TMC. In terms of poll promises and schemes for the needy, there is not much to choose, so the victory can be attributed to lack of a local face pitted against Mamata, resonance of the campaign, sympathy wave and understanding the pulse of the people.
“And that Mamata took her protégé head on in his bastion surely inspired confidence among the voters. Watch out TMC for the next election, as BJP will surely strengthen its position and feel much better the pulse of Bengal.”
Somabha Bagchi, homemaker said: “The landslide victory of TMC in Bengal is welcome to the extent that it gives power to democracy. A strong opposition is necessary for democracy to function effectively. Right now India has a single party that governs most of the states. However the task in Bengal is humongous, I hope TMC in its third term, rises to the occasion amid the COVID-19 pandemic and works sincerely."
G. Bhattacharjee, expat from Kolkata said: "The people of West Bengal have returned Mamata Banerjee to power for the third time with a margin which exceeded all expectations. Perhaps, only she can answer as to which of her political victories gave her more satisfaction – the first one in 2011 which dislodged the Left Front from their 34-year rule or the singlehanded battle that she fought to hold off the might of BJP in 2021.
"There is no doubt that the expectations from the Mamata government 3.0 will be at its peak, now that she has defied the anti-incumbency factor again. The topmost priority on the agenda, of course, will be fighting the second surge of COVID-19 in the state – without being confrontational with the powers that-be in New Delhi.
"The vision of ‘Sonar Bangla,’ which both the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah peddled during their relentless campaigns in the state failed to work its magic with the people. Now that there will be no ‘double engine sarkar’ as promised, the new government will have to show their own vision on several fronts – be it creating more jobs through industrialisation to transparency in the education sector.
"The micro welfare schemes like ‘Swastha Sathi’ for healthcare, ‘Kanya Shree’ for girl child’s education are good upto a point to win votes in the rural Bengal. What the state urgently needs an improvement in its overall brand appeal – and it may call for another Prashant Kishore there as well."
Aditi Mukherjee, business consultant said: “Like me, what all Indian expats want to see in India is progress and development, pro business and betterment of the people. TMC has been in power for sometime and people have once again voted for it. India is a democracy and the voters have made their choice. Lets hope the elected government continues to serve Bengal well.”
Yusuffali MA, Chairman, Lulu Group said: "I whole heartedly congratulate the incumbent CM Pinarayi Vijayan and his team for winning with a clear majority and wish him all the very best to lead Kerala through these difficult times as we battle the Pandemic and its multi level adverse impacts."
Dr Puthur Rahman, President, Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC) UAE National Committee, said: "In 2019, Kerala voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Congress-led UDF giving it 19 out of the 20 seats in Parliament. This clearly showed that they did not want the BJP in power. This time they voted in favour of the LDF probably because they thought the leadership style of ‘Captain’ Pinarayi Vijayan is most appropriate for a crisis situation. The Government’s caring attitude during the floods and epidemics won many laurels. It also contrasted sharply with the callous attitude of the BJP Govt at the Centre which badly let down the people and led to many avoidable deaths.
"The Left Government did make its share of mistakes, and the Opposition did expose many of them. But the people chose to ignore these things. Once again they chose to keep the BJP out."
Director of Norka Roots department for Keralites expats OV Mustafa, said: “The landslide victory of the LDF government in Kerala is an endorsement of the performance of the government under the leadership of Chief Minister. In the past five years the state faced many challenges from cyclone Okhi, floods, unprecedented rains, Nipah virus and now covid. The chief minister and his team lead from the front. Proper health care and social welfare to ensure no one starved during the lockdown, etc was much appreciated by people of the state across socio political boundaries. The state also witnessed unprecedented investment in modernising schools and hospitals. People are now happy to see better roads and other infrastructure. The government also fought from the front to uphold India’s secular democratic values.”
Sajeev Purushothaman, Founder Indo Arab Foundation, said: “Being expatriates, we anticipate the new government to address immediately the COVID-19 situation and look after the people and their family. Once the situation in the state gets normalised with vaccinations, only then will life of expatriates be normalised. The state of our health care system has been exposed now.”
Advocate Musthafa Zafeer, founder and chairman of Musthafa and Al Mana Business and Legal Consulting said: “The results are a vindication of the stellar performance put forth by the previous government, under the leadership of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. They have navigated every crisis thrown at them throughout their first regime, including the floods and the pandemic with utmost efficiency. I think for expats, this is not a very surprising result, as the LDF has been very effective in formulating and communicating their vision for Kerala and had a very strong inclusive attitude towards expatriates.
"As for the expectations from the upcoming government, the pandemic will continue to play a major role in its decision making. The economic cost that Kerala has to deal with is extremely heavy as foreign remittances are drying up and the tourism sector is really suffering, so this will be a major area that they will need to work on. Moreover, Kerala has shown that their preparedness in tackling the case surges have remained robust and I expect them to continue focusing on this issue at hand before embarking on other major policy pushes.”
Dr. Jayanthimala Suresh, President — Dubai Tamil Sangam, said: “The results according to me are pretty much in line with my expectations especially in Tamil Nadu. While the narratives may have been misplaced as to who will win and why they should win, the outcome in Tamil Nadu seems comparable to a ‘wave’. I don’t want to discount the reflection of the people towards improper handling of COVID-19 situation in India that has cost precious lives.
"Certainly the topmost priority for any Government now — new or old must be to contain the COVID-19 situation rising above politics and party lines. Representing the world's Tamils, it is my strong request to the leadership of DMK in Tamil Nadu to control COVID-19 as they take over. Lives and livelihood must be the topmost priority. Humanity must always prevail over politics, caste, creed, religion, language and economic status. The incumbent government must unrelentingly work towards that in order to live up to the expectations of the people."
S. S. Meeran, UAE DMK head, said: “We are delighted about the historic victory of DMK and the alliance led by MK Stalin. This victory is a gift for the dedication of our leader’s sincere efforts, party cadres support, selfless Tamils welfare service at all difficult times and undoubted trust of Tamil Nadu people. Though we would like to celebrate this historical event with a grand function, abiding by COVID-19 protocols of UAE, we are celebrating at our homes.”
Meenakumari Pathmanathan, social worker, said: “Ever since I moved to Dubai in 1994, the opportunity to vote has gone but the willingness to vote and see positive change has not. With the recent election results being announced, I sincerely hope to see changes that benefit the people of our community, especially during these times, when citizens are adversely affected by the pandemic. It is our right to vote and our right to choose those that lead us. Irrespective of the debate surrounding the political atmosphere, I believe that change in the right direction will prevail.”
Aswini K Borkotoky, senior expat from Assam: “I’m happy that Assam has given the mandate to one party instead of a hung assembly. That would have been detrimental to the region’s growth. Assam and the North Eastern states were neglected by the central government completely since independence. It is only during last few years these are being brought into mainstream of India. Plus historically this region had insurgency problems, which are fortunately on the decline. This region has huge potential and plays a significant and important role in India’s “look east” policy and growth of India.
“Once India is connected by road to South East Asian countries with transshipments through Bangladesh, this region will grow. For that, it is important to have the same party ruling at the centre and in these states.”