All You Need To Know About The Ongoing Assembly Elections

 

Since coming to power in May 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party had been sweeping all state elections till they met a certain Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi. A 67-3 defeat of the BJP at the hands of AAP provided the opposition, still reeling under the defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, a much needed source of encouragement. If Delhi was just one-off, then Bihar certainly was a permanent halt for the Modi juggernaut. A coming together of Nitish-Rahul-Lalu meant that BJP could only manage 53 seats.

 

 

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The political implications of Bihar though huge, are yet to be seen in the ongoing assembly elections in 5 key states.  In 2 of the 5 states (Assam and Kerala) the Congress is in power and faces huge anti-incumbency. The BJP meanwhile isn’t in power in any of these states and till 2014 even the most optimistic BJP follower wouldn’t have dreamt of a possible win in any of these states. But the Modi wave created a base for the BJP in traditionally strong Congress bastions. The elections also hold a key for the CPI(M) and other Left parties. Two states- Bengal and Kerala have for long been Left strongholds.  As the election season starts to heat up we take a look at the 4 key states individually.

 

 

ASSAM

 

Poll dates- April 4, 11

Results- May 19

Number of Constituencies– 126

Key Issues– Infiltration, Floods and Tea Garden Workers

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi being welcomed by the Chief Minister of Assam, Shri Tarun Gogoi, on his arrival at Guwahati on January 19, 2016.
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi being welcomed by the Chief Minister of Assam, Shri Tarun Gogoi, on his arrival at Guwahati on January 19, 2016.

 

When Himanta Biswas Sarma along with 9 Congress MLAs decided to swap allegiances from Congress to BJP, Assam was destined to see a change in government come 2016. But since then Congress has managed to get its house back in shape. Speculation was rife that the Congress would join hands with the AIUDF to prevent any splitting up of the 31% minority votes. But an adamant Tarun Gogoi government decided to go all alone. Apart from the UPP in Bodoland the Congress has no other ally in the state. On the other hand, in AGP and BPF the BJP has two key allies in Assam’s crucial Bodoland region.

 

 

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Sarbananda Sonowal, BJP’s Chief Minister candidate, would be contesting

from the river island of Majuli

 

Since 2013, in states where the Congress and BJP have been involved in a direct fight, the BJP has made huge inroads into traditional Congress strongholds. But can Assam prove to be different? Assam goes to election in two phases and if opinion polls are to be believed then we are all set for a nail biting finish.

 

KERALA

 

Poll dates- May 16

Results- May 19

Number of Constituencies– 141

Key Issues– Corruption, Anti-incumbency, Liquor ban

 

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The Bar Bribery scandal and Solar Scam meant that the Congress led UDF government made news for all the wrong reasons. Local municipal elections in 2015 showed the anger amongst the voters against the status-quo. The Left though marred with infightings look strong to form the new government and continue the state’s tradition of changing regimes after every 5 years. In VS Achuthanandan the Left has a seasoned politician as its face in the state. However the lack of dynamic young leaders might prove to be costly. The BJP, on the other hand, is trying hard to become a force to reckon with and would be keen to open its account in the state assembly. The Expanse of the BJP seems to be at the cost of the Left as Hindu voters, who generally sided with the Left, seems to have changed allegiances. Either way, the Oommen Chandy government faces a tough battle to retain power in the state.

 

TAMIL NADU

 

Poll dates- May 16

Results- May 19

Number of Constituencies– 234

Key Issues– Chennai Floods, Liquor ban, Social Sector schemes

 

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Since 1984 Tamil Nadu, much like its neighbour Kerala has never voted an incumbent government back to power again. But disarray in the opposition means J Jayalalitha stands a pretty good chance to retain her Chief Minister post. DMK on the other hand is yet to retrieve itself from the drubbing it suffered at the hands of the AIADMK in the 2011 Assembly elections followed by the virtual whitewash in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The formation of a third front by Vijayakanth’s DMDK and PWF means splitting up of the anti-incumbency votes, thus dampening DMK’s chances even more. But unlike other states election manifesto and campaign matters a lot in this southern state. Hence a lot can change between now and May 16 when the state goes to election.

 

WEST BENGAL

 

Poll dates- April 4, 11, 17, 21, 25, 30    May 5

Results- May 19

Number of Constituencies– 294

Key Issues– Corruption, Lack of Industries, Poll Violence

 

The Union Minister for Railways, Kumari Mamata Banerjee addressing at the Economic Editors’ Conference-2010, in New Delhi on October 27, 2010.

 

From a seemingly mundane election that had Mamata Banerjee firmly in the driver’s seat, the West Bengal Assembly Election has taken a dramatic turn with the joining of hands of the Congress and Left. Despite the initial hiccups, the Congress and the CPI (M) finally reached an agreement over seat sharing. The Narada sting along with the recent Syndicate Raj allegations against the state government have provided the otherwise depleted opposition much needed ammunition in their fight against the government. But Didi’s popularity in the rural regions of South Bengal and regions with large minority presence is something yet to be matched. Riding on the Modi wave BJP managed to get a formidable 17% vote share during the Lok Sabha elections. But with the Modi wave slowly fading away and also the coming together of the Left and Congress, the Lok Sabha results will be something difficult to replicate for the BJP.

 

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Surjya Kanta Mishra, Narayangarh MLA, is Left’s  chief minister candidate

 

 

Together these elections account for 116 Lok Sabha seats- the largest number of seats involved in Assembly elections at one phase since May 2014. The repercussions would be widespread and would tell the country about the mood prevailing among voters before the all important Uttar Pradesh elections in 2017.

 

WRITTEN BY: ARKA RAHA

 

 

 

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