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Electoral Win: Is It Public Sympathy Or Performances?

In 1984, the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi saw the Congress party win 411 seats out of 542 with her son Rajiv Gandhi becoming the Prime Minister. It was a sympathy wave. A similar situation arose when Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated while campaigning during the 1991 elections. In areas where polls were held before the assassination, the Congress fared badly. It was a vote against non-performance. Post Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, the Congress did well due to the sympathy wave but could not muster enough seats and had to form a minority government led by PV Narasimha Rao. So this brings to the fore whether West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who met with an accident in Nandigram constituency will romp home on a sympathy wave? Will her campaigning on a wheel-chair optics make the various scams, misrule a non-issue and catapult her party TMC into the winning zone. It may be recalled Chirag Paswan did not gain much from his father Ram Vilas Paswan’s demise but YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, current Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, more than benefited when his father and Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy died in a helicopter crash. Likewise, one must see what happens in Tamil Nadu with the demise of two icons — M Karunanidhi of DMK and J Jayalalithaa of AIADMK. Will it be sympathy or performance that will tilt the scale?  It is worth mentioning that the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi got two terms on sheer performance indices and so did AAP in Delhi, led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Looks like the electorates have wizened up and optics do not matter.