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The Week That Was:

From: Vartaa Editorial Team on May 22, 2016

Assembly Elections - Results

The Assembly election results across five states in India threw up some expected and some surprise results. In West Bengal, incumbent Mamata Banerjee's TMC easily came back to power while the AIADMK of Jayalalitha surprised analysts and exit poll projections to retain power in Tamil Nadu. Kerala once again kept up the tradition of voting the incumbent party out and the Left Front replaced the Congress in the state while in Assam, the Congress party's 15 year rule came to an end with a thumping win for the BJP. The Congress meanwhile was only left with a consolation victory in Puducherry.

Assembly Elections - New CM's

Across the states, the winning parties got ready to place their leaders in to the CM office. While the continuation of Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalitha in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu was a foregone conclusion, in Kerela P.Vijayan was all set to don the mantle of CM for the Left Front. In Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal, who was the face of the campaign for the BJP, is set to be the next CM. The party, learning from its mistakes in the Bihar elections recently, went in with a regional focus and appeared to have reaped the rewards of investing in local leadership.

Assembly Elections - Who really won?

Political analysis in the wake of the assembly election results largely focused on the failures on the Congress. The party's alliance with the CPI(M) in Bengal came up a cropper while in Kerala, it suffered large vote share erosion. Some analysts felt that the regional parties had more to gain than even the BJP with the results. In terms of numbers in the Rajya Sabha, where the government wants to pass legislation, while the immediate numbers will remain the same, the government can hope that the support of the TMC and the weakening of the Congress will give it room to manoeuvre the GST Bill through.

Tim Cook in India

Apple CEO Tim Cook was in India this past week and while he managed to take time out to immerse in local culture, meet Bollywood stars and even attend an IPL game, the highlight of his visit was a meeting with PM Modi. It is believed that the PM stressed on Cook the need for bringing manufacturing of iPhones to India. While India remains a growth market for Apple after its iPhone sales stagnated in China, it remains to be seen whether the company will follow PM Modi's Make in India pitch.

Opinions you must read:

  • The Hindu takes a closer look into the reasons why the DMK could not capitalize on anti-incumbency and win the elections in Tamil Nadu.
  • The Indian Express has some stern words for the Congress leadership in the wake of the latest round of election defeats for the party.

Chart of the Week

If you hadn't noticed yet, our Vartaa team loves reporting about freedom. In another such report we will cover an important form of freedom- the freedom of press. Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an organization that provides information about press freedom around the world, recently released its 2016 report. India's rank has improved marginally but it is still a lowly 133 out of 179 countries covered. This is concerning for the largest democracy in the world.

Although concerning, this should not come across as a surprise. The arrest of cartoonist Asim Trivedi, attacks on newspaper offices (especially by the Shiv Sena), the routine censorship when it comes to reporting on Jammu Kashmir and parts of the Northeast are known issues. RSF also highlights some of these issue. It particularly mentions the 'indifference' of the government about attacks on journalists and bloggers by groups that are so thin-skinned they could take offense at almost anything.

Take a look at how countries around the world fare when it comes to Freedom of Press, in the interactive chart of this week.