Upcoming polls crucial for BJP
The Election Commission of India has announced the dates for Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, and Telangana. The election in Chhattisgarh will be held in two phases on November 7 and November 20. Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram will go to polls on November 28 while Mizoram and Telangana will hold elections on December 7. The election results will be announced On December 11. The upcoming Assembly elections in the five states, months before the Lok Sabha election mid-next year, is one of the most crucial Assembly elections this year. The new year had begun with Assembly elections in four North-Eastern states followed by Assembly elections in Karnataka. BJP is in power in six of the seven North-Eastern states and Mizoram is the only state in the region where Congress is in power. In Telangana, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti government was dissolved and a fresh election was sought by the state cabinet headed by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) recently. In the remaining three states -- Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan -- BJP is in power. Interestingly, in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, BJP is in power for the last three consecutive terms. Given the high stakes involved, these elections are going to be a tough contest between BJP and the opposition parties. As the Lok Sabha elections are not far, it is believed that the election results from the poll-bound states will provide political trends for the impending Lok Sabha elections.
In Chhattisgarh, the elections would be conducted in two phases keeping in view the Maoist problem in some parts of the state. The contest here is mainly between BJP and Congress but after an alliance struck by Mayawati with former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister and chief of Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC), the contest becomes three-cornered. In a House of 90 members, JCC is contesting 45 seats while Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 35 seats. BSP is said to have some influence among the SC/ST voters which constitute a majority of voters in many of the constituencies in the state. The incumbent Chief Minister, Raman Singh, has been in office for 15 years without a break and the possibility that an anti-incumbency factor may derail his chances of retaining power in the state the fourth time is giving the BJP brass a tough time. BJP faces similar fears in Madhya Pradesh where Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is in office since 2005. In Madhya Pradesh too, the contest is mainly between BJP and Congress. BJP had won 165 seats while Congress 58 seats with a voting percentage of 44.88 and 42.67 in the last Assembly elections held in 2013. After an intense political fight in Karnataka, where an alliance of Congress and JD-S managed to keep BJP out of power despite it being the single-largest party, Congress is in high spirits. It genuinely thinks that it can manage to win the upcoming Assembly election in Madhya Pradesh. The party was in talks with BSP for a pre-poll alliance to ensure that the opposition votes are not divided. But BSP has announced that it will go alone in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Given the influence that Mayawati enjoys among the Dalit voters in Madhya Pradesh, Congress is likely to suffer for failing to rope in BSP as an alliance partner. In Rajasthan too, Congress is highly optimistic about defeating BJP and making its government. In all the three BJP-ruled states, the main grime has been that these governments have not been successful in boosting the economy and create fresh employment. However, Congress has a whole list of issues from banking scams to fugitive businessmen on which it would counter BJP's narrative.
Telangana and Mizoram are the two states where opposition parties in power. It would be interesting to see if Mizoram follows the trend offered by the recent Assembly elections in the region in which BJP has trounced Congress and assumed power in six out of seven states. If it joins the BJP's victory march, the saffron party would be in power in all the seven states of the Northeast and that would be quite an achievement for the party. But if it bucks the trend and remains a Congress stronghold, Congress would feel a lot more confident about the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. In Telangana, TRS's popularity has reportedly come down significantly and the upcoming Assembly elections will be a litmus test for KCR's magic on the people. Though both Congress and BJP are eying to improve their performance in Telangana, their prospects do not seem bright mainly because of the people's apathy to national parties. However, TRS has made it clear that it would be open to a post-poll alliance. It is believed that TRS might ask for support from BJP if it falls short of the numbers to form the government. Similarly, BJP might seek TRS support in case BJP needs it after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.