US presidential elections: The importance of ‘Middle’ America

The November election for next US President will probably be decided by six states Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Indiana, located in the Midwest of America

The November Election, if it is close, is likely to be decided in one or more of the states in Midwest America. To win the election a candidate needs 270 votes in the Electoral College. A vote in the Electoral College is decided according to the population. The New York Times Electoral Map shows at present states with 237 electoral votes solid on leaning Obama and 191 electoral votes solid or leaning Romney, while 110 votes are a toss-up.
The toss-up states are Florida, Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio. Ohio has 18 Electoral College votes, Wisconsin has 10 and Iowa has 6.Together they add up to 34 votes which should be enough to swing any close election. Also, in the Midwest are two states (Michigan and Pennsylvania) leaning towards President Obama and one state—Indiana—leaning towards Governor Romney. So these are actually six states in play in the Midwest. President Obama is ahead at present in Ohio, Wisconsin as also Iowa but the margins are not very large and are clearly reversible. He leads by more than 10 points in the latest Michigan polls. However, as Jim Messina, President Obama’s campaign manager said recently, President Obama seems to be polling better in the swing state polls than in the national polls. 
President Obama is from the state of Illinois which is in the vicinity and Governor Romney grew up in Michigan which is also in the vicinity. Romney’s father was a governor of the state of Michigan. Representative Paul Ryan represents the 2nd district of Wisconsin in the House of Representatives and has put Wisconsin which President Obama won handily in the last election in play. There was a recall election for Republican Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker which was regarded as pivotal. However, Governor Scott Walker’s conservative policies of tax cuts, spending cuts and union bashing led to a very polarising election where there was a lot of outsider interest both from deep pocketed donors as also from trade unions. 
The state of Wisconsin in the process has become extremely energised. Governor Romney thinks he has an opportunity there and is ratcheting up his game in the state. Further the auto bailout, one of the signature achievements of the Obama presidency which helped to save Detroit, is a big issue in the election. There are a lot of ancillary industries to the auto industry in Ohio and President Obama has been tom-tomming his decision to save his auto industry. President Obama also claims that Governor Romney was opposed to a bailout and actually was ready to let the auto industry go under which is not exactly true. 
Governor Romney wanted a managed bankruptcy to save the auto industry. However, the problem with the managed bankruptcy is that it would have put a judge in charge of the bankruptcy and the auto companies and would not probably have been as efficient as the auto czar put there by President Obama. Further on there has been a nascent through distinct manufacturing revival in the Midwest and the state of Ohio has been a particular beneficiary of this trend. Up to a hundred thousand manufacturing jobs have come back to America for the first time since the nineties and President Obama is taking credit for that. To put the hundred thousand jobs in perspective, there are twenty three million unemployed people in America. 
But the Midwest economies seem to be doing better than the rest of America. Also, the selection of Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has energised the Republican Party in the Midwest. They are ready to put up a good fight. It is also important to note that no Republican candidate has ever won the presidency without winning the state of Ohio. In that sense it is a true bellwether state and that is how large the stakes are for Mitt Romney.   
The picturesque Midwest was immortalised by Saul Bellow and the American heartland is all in play. This election will be probably decided by the Midwest of America and the Middle East.
(Harsh Desai has done his BA in Political Science from St Xavier's College & Elphinstone College, Bombay and has done his Master's in Law from Columbia University in the city of New York. He is a practicing advocate at the Bombay High Court.)


Ajit Pawar resigns from Maharashtra cabinet, what about others?

With Ajit Pawar’s resignation, the first wicket is down in Maharashtra’s ruling coalition amidst allegations of a huge scam of Rs72,000 crore in the irrigation department. But what about other scandal-hit leaders like Patel, Bhujbal and Tatkare?

Following allegations of a Rs72,000 crore scam in irrigation project sanctions, Ajit Pawar, deputy chief minister and nephew of Sharad Pawar, has resigned from the Maharashtra cabinet. According a PTI report, Ajit Pawar said that he has sent his resignation to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, but would continue to be leader of NCP in the legislature.


While the resignation of Ajit Pawar has come as a surprise, his party Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and its chief Sharad Pawar has so far kept mum over several allegations of fraud on senior party members. There are several allegations against NCP leaders like Praful Patel, Chhagan Bhujbal, Sunil Tatkare and Gulabrao Deokar. While the Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Union Government and Air India for probing aircraft purchases during Patel’s tenure as civil aviation minister, the Maharashtra government has given its consent to probe allegations against Bhujbal.


Earlier, political circles were abuzz that in order to save their senior leader (Patel?) in the Centre, the NCP may ask Tatkare to resign amidst several allegations. But in the end it turned out to be Ajit Pawar who offered to resign. This may have been done to save Tatkare, often labelled as Ajit Pawar’s ‘chela’ or true follower.  


BJP leader Kirit Somaiyya and Madhav Bhandari have even filed a public interest litigation in the Bombay High Court for probing against Tatkare and various companies he allegedly set up through his family and friends.


Pawar, who held finance and energy portfolios in the Prithviraj Chavan government, said he would not accept any post till his name is ‘cleared’.


“People are jealous of the rise of NCP,” he said, in an apparent reference to ally Congress with which his party has had an uneasy relation for the last several years.


Pawar said he has recommended that the energy portfolio held by him be given to NCP minister Rajesh Tope and finance to Jayant Patil.


There have been reports in the media that Pawar, who was water resource minister for a decade between 1999 and 2009, had approved 38 projects worth Rs 20,000 crore in 2009 without clearance of Governing Council of Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC).


According to reports, Pawar and the VIDC executive director approved the projects without placing it before the governing council comprising the state’s chief secretary and officials of the finance, planning agriculture and water resource departments for deliberation and clearance, as mandated under the rules.


It has also been alleged that tenders were approved at inflated rates, but Pawar has flatly refuted the charges.


When Congress-NCP combine came into power in 1999, Ajit Pawar was promoted to the rank of a cabinet minister. He became minister for the coveted Irrigation department during October 1999-December 2003 in the Vilasrao Deshmukh government.


When Congress-NCP combine returned to power in 2004 he retained the water resources ministry (name changed from irrigation department to water resources department) from November 2004 to October 2009 in Vilasrao Deshmukh government and later in Ashok Chavan’s government.


Several detractors point out that Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), the bastion of Ajit Pawar, is also known to host as many as 85,000 illegal buildings housing several hundred thousands of residents of the city. It is widely alleged that the constructions and contractors erecting them were all blessed by Pawar, in return of financial help for electoral campaigns of his party.



Vaibhav Dhoka

5 years ago

The wait is pressure tactic.It is to regain opportunity with more thrust.Every indian knows that their is no JUSTICE system working in India.And politician are born with this sight.

Vaidya Dattatraya Vasudeo

5 years ago

The Senior Correspondent of Loksatta has covered the issue in great details over a period of 6 days from 14 to 19th December, 2009, pertaining to the entire period under his control. If it is a matter of ethics, why did Mr. Ajit Pawar waited so long.

Uptrend on Sensex, Nifty not yet broken: Tuesday Closing Report


If the Nifty closes below 5,615, the index may go sideways 
The market closed flat with a positive bias in the absence of any local cues and on fresh concerns from Europe. Today the Nifty moved almost in the same range as yesterday. However, it ended with marginal gains. If the Nifty closes below 5,615 we may see sideways movement setting in. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) saw a volume of 107.64 crore shares and an advance-decline ratio of 949:838.
The domestic market opened marginally higher despite its Asian peers trending lower in morning trade. The Nifty opened five points higher at 5,675 and the Sensex resumed trade at 18,708, a gain of 35 points over its previous close.
Buying support in initial trade soon saw the indices hitting their intraday highs. The Nifty rose to 5,703 and the Sensex climbed to 18,790. 
Continuing with its reforms push, this time in the power sector, the Centre on Monday approved restructuring of Rs1.9 lakh crore debt of State Electricity Boards in a move to turnaround the near-bankrupt power distribution companies. Under the scheme approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, 50% of the short-term outstanding liabilities would be taken over by state governments. The balance 50% loans would be restructured by providing moratorium on principle and best possible terms for repayments.
The indices could not sustain the gains and ventured into the negative territory in early trade itself. The market continued to be sideways in morning trade and fell to its lows around 11.45am. At this point the Nifty stood at 5,652 and the Sensex went back to 18,636.
Buying support from fast moving consumer goods, capital goods and banking sectors helped the benchmark emerge into the green in noon trade. 
The market closed flat with a positive bias on concerns of recurring problems in Europe. The Nifty closed four points up at 5,674 and the Sensex rose 21 points to 18,694.
Among the broader markets, the BSE Mid-cap index gained 0.46% and the BSE Small-cap index advanced 0.53%.
The main sectoral gainers were BSE Realty (up 2.08%); BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (up 1.85%); BSE Consumer Durables (up 0.75%); BSE Healthcare (up 0.60%) and BSE Power (up 0.47%). BSE Metal (down 1.36%); BSE Auto (down 0.72%); BSE PSU (down 0.27%) and BSE Oil & Gas (down 0.20%) settled lower.
Twelve of the 30 stocks on the Sensex closed in the positive. The key gainers were BHEL (up 2.67%); Cipla (up 1.92%); ITC (up 1.86%); Hindustan Unilever (up 1.86%) and HDFC (up 1.28%). The main losers on the index were Jindal Steel (down 4.35%); Maruti Suzuki (down 2.42%); Sterlite Industries (down 2.31%); Tata Motors (down 1.66%) and Tata Steel (down 1.48%).
The top two A Group gainers on the BSE were—Pantaloon Retail (up 9.60%) and United Spirits (up 8.89%).
The top two A Group losers on the BSE were—Essar Oil (down 5%) and Jindal Steel (down 4.35%).
The top two B Group gainers on the BSE were—United Breweries Holdings (up 19.97%) and Lambodhara Textiles (up 19.96%).
The top two B Group losers on the BSE were—Rama Pulp and Paper (down 15.61%) and Koa Tools India (down 11.11%).
Out of the 50 stocks listed on the Nifty, 23 stocks settled in the positive. The top gainers were Kotak Mahindra Bank (up 3.17%); BHEL (up 2.70%); HUL (up 2.29%); Cipla (up 2.18%) and ITC (up 2.09%). The main laggards were Jindal Steel (down 4.70%); Cairn India (down 3.02%); Jaiprakash Associates (down 2.72%); Sterlite Ind (down 2.65%) and Axis Bank (down 2.49%).
Markets in Asia were mixed on concerns that Greece and Spain would face difficulties in being eligible for the fresh bailout funds. Investors also appeared cautious ahead of a crucial meeting between German chancellor Angela Merkel and European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi in Berlin.
The Hang Seng added 0.02%; the Jakarta Composite gained 0.62%; the KLSE Composite rose 0.38% and the Nikkei 225 settled 0.25% higher. Among the losers, the Shanghai Composite declined 0.19%; the Straits Times shed 0.03%; the Seoul Composite dropped 0.60% and the Taiwan Weighted lost 0.44%.
At the time of writing, the key European markets were down between 0.03% and 0.39% and the US stock futures were marginally in the green.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of shares totalling Rs1,595.72 crore on Monday. On the other hand, domestic institutional investors were net sellers of equities aggregating Rs1,156.45 crore.
Hotel Leelaventure has received a 24-month moratorium for the outstanding principal amount of Rs3,000 crore it borrowed from a consortium of 17 banks, as part of the corporate debt restructuring (CDR) it had applied for.  The hospitality major has also been given a 23-month moratorium for the interest portion. The total interest, at 11% per annum, will be converted into Funded Interest Term Loan (FITL) and need to be serviced from January 2014. The stock gained 1.71% and closed at Rs29.70 on the NSE.
Godrej Consumer Products (GCPL) has entered into a pact for exclusive rights to include the hair extensions business in Kenya and exports to other East Africa geographies in its partnership with the Darling Group. The transaction is expected to close after obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals. The Godrej Darling business will include about 65% of the overall Darling Group business. GCPL advanced 1.75% to settle at Rs675 on the NSE.
UK’s Cairn Energy plc today said it has sold 8% stake in Cairn India for a net realisation of about $910 million. Following the sale, Cairn Energy retains about 10% shareholding in Cairn India, the company said in a press statement here. The stock tanked 3.02% to settle at Rs335.10 on the NSE.


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