“Elections are a festival of democracy” – Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India
Eight states in India will be going for elections in 2018 (Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Karnataka, Mizoram, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan). These assembly elections are vital as they will set the course for the general elections in 2019. There are talks of a major political shift from the BJP to the Congress or from the BJP to no one. In this article, I will talk about three states. These three states, I believe will play a key role in setting a precedence for the 2019 elections.
Rajasthan – Disillusioned
The incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party government, led by chief minister Vasundhara Raje is going to face a tough fight from the Congress. By-polls took place for two Lok Sabha seats and single Vidhan Sabha seat. The Congress won all of these by-polls and it shows the political alignment of the people of Rajasthan. Vasundhara Raje has faced fervent excoriation, not just from the opposition; but from the people themselves. She has been accused of corruption (Never formally charged) and the state of Rajasthan does not seem to have come a long way from the onset of this government.
Congress’ likely candidate for the chief ministerial position is Sachin Pilot. No official declaration has been made by the party. Rajasthan has 25 seats in the Lok Sabha. The result of the assembly elections will tell us to whom, will they go to.
Tripura – The last ‘Red’ Castle
Tripura already went for polls on 18th February 2018. The state recorded a voter turnout of 78.86%, which is lower than the 91% of the 2013 elections. In Tripura, the battle is between the Left front and the BJP where the latter is bending over a massive anti-incumbency wave.
Manik Sarkar was elected as the chief minister of Tripura in 1998. Communist Party of India (Marxist) has been in power in the state since 1993 and it is their last state where they hold power since they lost to Trinamool Congress in West Bengal. Incumbency may play out against them. The youth of the demography of Tripura is also, as claimed by the BJP, rallied by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. How well will that play out? It will be reflected in the results. Being the last bastion of the CPI (M), if the BJP win the state, the political shift will be significant as it will portray a continued support for the party. Though the north eastern states do not play an important role in the share of Lok Sabha seats. Winning this election does give a boost to the image of the victor in other parts of the country.
Karnataka – Southern Gateway
The southern state of Karnataka will also be going to polls this year. Siddaramaiah has been the chief minister of the state since 2013. After losing the Himachal Pradesh elections to the BJP, the Congress was reduced to just four states. One of them being Karnataka.
Congress is doing its best to avoid losing Karnataka. It has launched massive campaigns to prevent losing the state. BJP juggernauts such as Amit Shah and Narendra Modi have been campaigning extensively in the state. Competition is tough as the BJP will try to secede Karnataka from the hands of the Congress and reduce its presence further.
Results in Karnataka unlike that of Tripura, may not represent the sentiments of South India. Since the states there are much more diverse in their political opinions, supplemented by presence of strong regional parties. A victory for the BJP would mean an entry into the Southern Indian politics. 28 seats is the share of Karnataka in the Lok Sabha. It is a considerable share and the assembly election’s result will have a direct impact on those seats.
The states of Rajasthan, Tripura and Karnataka may not represent the entire country. But they do set an important precedent for the General Elections of 2019. Though the past few years we witnessed the waning power of the Congress and the growing popularity of Narendra Modi and BJP. Since past few months, we have seen a resurging Congress party under Rahul Gandhi who has taken a strategy of directly opposing the prime minister.
Indian politics has always been unpredictable, and we the people of India are proud of that unpredictability. It keeps the political parties on their toes and forces them to perform and not resort to just promises.