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Hindi to Hindustan

The dice has finally been loaded for the ruling Congress and the principal Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to size each other up before the general elections in the summer of 2014. The assemblies of four major states of Hindi heartland - Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Rajathan - go to the polls in winters this year and it would have the two major contenders locked in straight fight.

For the first time the prime ministerial candidate of BJP, Narendra Modi would be leading party’s poll campaigns outside the state. His appeal will undergo a litmus test during these state elections. He will campaign in each of these states trying to woo the first time voters with his aggressively speeches. Modi has regularly harped on issue corruption to slam the Congress. ‘Now a student will learn A for Adarsh Scam, B for Bofors Scam, C for CWG Scam, D for Damaad Ka Karobar,’ are some of the sobriquets with which Modi has attacked Congress.

He has also criticized the Congress for malgovernance, hoping to raise a wave against them, which he wishes to ride to success. One factor which comes along with Modi is that of polarization. Despite his promises, overtly ‘popular’ social media presence and charges against the Congress, the main question which remains is will Modi be able to woo minorities or consolidate them against the BJP.

However, Modi magic alone cannot pull the BJP through as was witnessed in Karnataka, where the local factors dominated seeing exit of the BJP government. For BJP in these polls there are local satraps too who would be calling the shots and deciding the course of popular mandate.
While the Congress too has chosen its war horses to lead the campaigns in the respective states but it would also be counting on the charm of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, which might work, as he is attempting to strike an emotional note with most of his speeches. Off late, Congress vice-president has tried coming out of his reclusive image as he has taken on the issue of the ordinance for convicted lawmakers. Rahul publicly trashed the ordinance during a press meet making a sudden appearance there, saying it should be ‘torn up’ and thrown. Gandhi junior has from thereon been more aggressive politically.

Rahul too has been travelling across the country, especially in the election-bound states to woo the voters. Interestingly he offers a cocktail of issues, intermixed with an emotional shot. Even the issue of Food Security Bill, had him narrating the incident of how his mother Sonia Gandhi, despite being very ill wanted to stay back in parliament while the voting for this bill was on.

Recently during a rally help in Churu, Rajasthan he chose to attack the BJP for spreading hatred and instigating communal violence in the country. Along those lines, Rahul remembered how his grandmother and former prime-minister Indira Gandhi and his father Rajiv Gandhi were murdered. In fact he quoted from his childhood how Indira’s bodyguards taught him how to play badminton as a child, and those very men murdered her.

So will the aggression of Modi get better of Rahul’s emotions as they try to sway voters to their side. While the local factors would have major plays in the upcoming polls but their respective charms would also contribute to an extent.

These elections would also decide fate of several other leaders in their respective parties like Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Nitin Gadkari and Rajnath Singh in BJP and Sheila Dikshit, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Ajit Jogiin the Congress. It’s going to be a make or break contest of these leaders too.
Incumbent Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will be facing a huge challenge with 230 seats in the state to fight for. The biggest problem he faces is to garner the Muslim votes in the state.Working on his 'secular' image make-over Chouhan laid the foundation stone of a Haj House in April, wore the skull cap on Id-ul-Fitr, got Muslim couples married under the Mukhya Mantri Kanyadaan Yojana and indulged the minority, to appease them. But the question still remains on how well his strategy works out, despite these measures.

Another factor which might deter his third term in the upcoming assembly elections, lies in the recent Ratangarh stampede. The Congress attacked Chouhan for it, saying he must resign. During this tragedy more than 100 pilgrims were crushed to death in a stampede on the bridge leading to Ratangarh temple in Datia district. Chouhan had tweeted, 'Politics on any tragedy is unwanted. The focus should be on attending to the injured and taking steps to avoid any such incidents in the future.'

One person whose prowess is to be watched is that of BJP's in-charge of Delhi polls Nitin Gadkari. The former party president has been had been negotiated with the warring factional leaders for a long time before pitching-in for RSS-backed Harshvardhan's name. BJP’s performance in Delhi who decide Gadkari’s future role.

In this scenario, party president Rajnath Singh had initially favoured Vijay Goel's candidature, but sensing the political he too went with the majority view in the party. After Modi discussed with  Singh and senior RSS leader Suresh Soni the strategy for the forthcoming elections and the roadmap for the Lok Sabha polls, a huge responsibility rests on Singh as per the fate of these elections. It is an acid test for Singh after his appointment, as the performance of the BJP in states like Delhi and Rajasthan would most likely be seen as an indicator to the larger game - the 2014 general elections for the BJP.

As for the Congress, chief minister Sheila Dikshit will try showcasing her political prowess in the upcoming polls winning it for fourth time in the row. Despite facing allegations of corruption and inflation, Dikshit remains combative. In this election Dikshit, apart from BJP will be facing AAP, which has viciously attacked her. Now has that impacted the public sentiments, needs to be seen.
In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress' choice Jyotiraditya Scindia faces the problem of lacking a mass support.

Finally Congress's Ajit Jogi in Chhattisgarh too would be fighting a do or die battle. He is hoping to ride on anti-incumbency wave against BJP's Raman Singh. But internally he isn't liked by many party leaders,for his partisan attitude. Even the killings of Congress leaders in Darbha valley went against him, as he was charged to be the prime conspirator behind the Maoist attack. If Jogi can resolve the infighting in the party and the issue of ticket distribution, he just might displace Raman Singh and regain Chhattisgarh for the Congress in these elections.
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