The political class, which is pitched in a tight battle to elect five regional assemblies, is finding it an extremely tense moment.
Deepawali, the Indian festival of light, symbolises the victory of good over evil and is a major event in life of millions of people. The political class, which is pitched in a tight battle to elect five regional assemblies, is finding it an extremely tense moment. In fact, many of the candidates preferred to file their nomination papers to contest elections on the auspicious ‘Dhanteras’.
There are tense moments not only for the individuals who have been given party nomination for various Assembly seats in poll bound States of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram. There are aspirants for other Assembly segments, who face tensions of uncertainty as they await their Central leadership’s nod.
Of the five States, the Hindi heartland States of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh will witness a direct contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the principal opposition the Congress are locked in an almost direct contest.
A win in two of the three States by either of the two rivals would be a major psychological boost in the run up to the general election slated for March-April next year. The BJP faces a voter fatigue in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh after being in office for the past 15 years. However, it has an advantage of strong organizational strength that helped score over the Congress in the last three Assembly elections.
An example of no holds barred battle ahead is the tit-for-tat games played out in Madhya Pradesh. BJP managed to engineer crossing over of Congress leader and former Member of Parliament Premchand Guddu. The Congress retaliated by winning over Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s brother-in-law Sanjay Singh.
Raman Singh and Shivraj Singh Chauhan are well known in their states. BJP also has in its armoury seasoned several local campaigners and above all the mobilising ability of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Congress, on the other hand, has resourceful and affable Kamal Nath and youthful Jyotiradiya Scindia leading the charge in Madhya Pradesh. With its leadership wiped in terrorist attacks in Chhattisgarh, the Congress seems to be at a disadvantage. Various sharp manoeuvres are being played out by the BJP and the Congress in a shrewd display of political one-upmanship.
Former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi has joined hands with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) stalwart Mayawati in the hope of emerging as the kingmaker after the poll results.
The first round of voting for Chhattisgarh, where polling is being held in two phases, begins on November 12, just five days after Deepawali. The second phase of voting will be conducted on November 20.
Chhattisgarh has been ridden with left wing extremists, often branded as Maoists. A peaceful polling in the 18 Assembly seats that are covered in the November 12 schedule would be a major relief for the security forces.
The Chhattisgarh polling will be followed by Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram elections on November 28. The Congress needs to desperately save its only citadel in the northeast—Mizoram.
With both the major parties keeping a close watch on happenings in the rival camp, there is room for crossing over to either group by those denied party nominations. The battle of Madhya Pradesh may witness a cliffhanger and in many ways provide much needed boost to the supporters of the winning side.
Telangana Rashtriya Samithi leader and Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao was a frontrunner when he decided to announce elections eight months before schedule. However, with the Congress, Telugu Desam Party and Communist Party of India along with other small groups deciding to jointly challenge the incumbent Chief Minister the contest now is wide open.
May be some clarity will emerge after the festival of lights.