Political pundits are at it, analysts are also giving it a try – everyone involved is speculating waht will become of this election.
Political pundits are projecting various scenarios. The issues are more or less State-specific but by and large they are power shortage, water, tribal welfare, Maoism, anti-incumbency, agrarian crisis, petrol price hike, Rafale scam, demonetisation and the GST
As the stage is set for elections, stakes are high in five states — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Telangana. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are engaged in an almost direct fight in most of these States. Though the results would be known only on December 11, there is a lot of election-related excitement in the rest of the country as these State polls are seen as mini General Elections or dress-rehearsal for the 2019 Lok Sabha poll which will shape the national mood.
In 2013, the BJP’s victory in the three States — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh made it easy for the party to win a Lok Sabha majority in 2014 though the State and national polls were not aligned. The BJP has ruled Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for the last 15 years. In 2013, the BJP had won 165, 163 and 49 seats in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh Assemblies respectively, with the Congress securing 58, 21 and 39 seats. The strength of these Assemblies is 230, 200 and 90 respectively. The continuation of BJP rule will mean an endorsement of the party’s policies.
Mizoram is the only North-eastern State where the BJP is not in power either on its own or in alliance. Winning the tiny State even as a junior partner of a regional ally would mean the BJP conquest of the entire region. In Mizoram, the Congress has been in power since 2008. With 40 Assembly seats, the Congress has been in a fight against regional parties, including Mizo National Front and Mizo People’s Conference. The BJP is a minor player.
Political pundits are projecting various scenarios. The issues are more or less State-specific but by and large they are power shortage, water, tribal welfare, Maoism, anti-incumbency, agrarian crisis, petrol price hike, Rafale scam, demonetisation and the goods and services tax (GST).
In Rajasthan, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is facing an anti-incumbency wave. The Congress is more or less united with the team led by former Chief Minister Ashok Ghelot, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Sachin Pilot and former Union Minister CP Joshi. If there is no sabotage from within, the Congress can and should win the State.
In Madhya Pradesh, despite severe anti-incumbency, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is seeking power for the fourth time but his personal popularity is intact. Here, the Congress could win if it can contain internal dissent as many senior leaders like Digvijay Singh, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath head their own factions. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) going alone in Madhya Pradesh may affect the Congress’ chances.
In Chhattisgarh, too, Chief Minister, Raman Singh, is popular despite several corruption charges and the Maoist menace still not eradicated. The Congress votes will be split in view of the alliance formed between former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi and BSP supremo Mayawati.
There are four scenarios emerging from the States. The best-case scenario for the BJP is that the party gets three out of five or even four with a North-eastern ally in Mizoram. For the BJP, retaining power in the Hindi heartland is important to give a message that its base is intact ahead of 2019 and it can go into the General Election with supreme confidence. The second, not-so-bad scenario, is that the BJP loses one of the three Hindi heartland States but keeps two. The third is that the BJP loses two of the three heartland States and manages to retain only one, most probably Chhattisgarh. Then it will be a setback for the party. The fourth is a worst- case scenario if the BJP loses all three States, which will be a severe setback as there will be a cascading effect of the loss on the 2019 poll.
As for the Congress, high stakes are involved for the party as well as its president Rahul Gandhi, who has been campaigning hard. This will be the first mini General Election under his leadership after he took over the reins as [arty president in March 2018. The Congress winning two of the three States would mark a sense of revival and enable Gandhi to emerge as a challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also unite the Opposition. It will be a bonanza if the grand old party manages to get the two big States — Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh while retaining Mizoram.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is fighting a grand alliance of TDP, Congress and CPI. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is confident of overcoming anti-incumbency. In Telengana, the TRS surprised all by advancing the Assembly poll. The Congress-TDP-CPI alliance may find it difficult as the TRS enjoys tacit support from the BJP. In Mizoram, the Mizo National Front, an ally of the BJP, challenges the present regime of the Congress.
(The writer is a senior political commentator)
Writer: Kalyani Shankar
Courtesy: The Pioneer