Why the assembly polls in 5 states will be a clear pre-cursor to the 2019 LS elections
New Delhi, Oct 8: The upcoming elections in the five states are expected to throw up an interesting challenge. These polls are important in the context of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, which has already been dubbed as the mother of all polls.
The five states that go to polls are Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Telangana. The BJP is in power in three states-MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. The main challenger to the BJP would be the Congress, which is looking to seize power after having sat in the opposition for several years now.
In Telangana, the contest is between the TRS and the grand alliance led by the Congress. In Mizoram, the fight is a direct one between the Congress and the Mizo National Front.
The focus of the BJP would be mainly on the three states it is in power. The results are expected to be a clear pre-cursor to the party's prospects in 2019. In 2014, these three states played a crucial role in shaping the BJP's victory.
In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP had won 26 out of the 29 seats in 2014. In Rajasthan, the party bagged all the 25 seats, whereas in Chhattisgarh, the tally for the party stood at 10 out of the 11 seats.
The stakes are high for the Congress too. The party would be looking to make a comeback and also would hope that the BJP continues its poor run as was the case in the recently held Lok Sabha by-elections in the various states. The Congress would also be mindful of the fact the tough fight it gave the BJP in Gujarat and also the party's failure to form the government in Karnataka.
The alliance crisis:
The Congress party in 2014 plunged to its lowest tally by winning just 44 seats. Following that it has lost a series of elections in the states. Punjab was the only state that the party has managed to win on its own.
While the party has managed to put up an impressive campaign, it faced a series of setbacks in recent weeks, with parties such as the BSP and SP making it clear that it would fight the polls on its own.
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Even in Chhattisgarh, where it was hoping to make inroads, the party was hit by a roadblock with the BSP announcing an alliance with the Ajit Jogi led Janata Congress Chhattisgarh.
The Chhattisgarh scenario is particularly worrying for the Congress. The BSP-Jogi tie up is expected to help the BJP beat the anti-incumbency factor. For the first time the state would witness a triangular fight.
The other problem for the Congress is the leadership crisis. The party has not been able to find a suitable face after its top leadership was wiped out in a naxal attack. In the 2013 assembly elections, the BJP won 49 out of the 91 seats, whereas the Congress managed to bag 39 seats. The Congress had lost that election by a margin of just 0.75 per cent votes.
The BJP's distress:
The BJP would particularly be put to test in the states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Several issues have plagued the ruling party over the past couple of months. In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress has been out of power since 2000.
The Congress has put its best people in the state to take on Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The Congress party's strategy is being worked out by Digvijaya Singh, Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia. In the previous elections, the BJP had managed to win 165 out of the 230 seats.
For the BJP the biggest problem in the two states would be the farmer issue. Madhya Pradesh has been the epicentre of the farmer agitation. Six farmers were killed in police firing at Mandsaur in June 2017.
In Rajasthan too, the BJP is facing stiff competition. The Congress led by Ashok Gehlot is strategising the poll campaign and it is a well known fact that he is a seasoned war horse. In Rajasthan the BJP had in the previous elections won 163 out of the 200 seats, whereas the Congress had managed just 21. The vote share gap between the two parties stood at 12 per cent in the last elections.