These elections have been dubbed as a semi-final as they will be held barely five months before the nation faces general elections of 2019.
It is exam time for politicians and political parties as the Election Commission of India announced the schedule for elections to five State Assemblies and three Lok Sabha seats.
These elections have been dubbed as a semi-final as they will be held barely five months before the nation faces general elections of 2019 to elect the 17th Lok Sabha, the lower House of Parliament that has 543 members.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) OP Rawat said Telangana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Chhattisgarh Assembly elections will be completed before December 15. As per the schedule, counting of votes will be conducted on December 11. With the use of electronic voting machine, the results of election will be known the same day.
By-elections to three Lok Sabha seats—Shimoga, Bellary and Mandya—are scheduled for November 3.
CEC Rawat rejected the allegation of the opposition parties that the Press conference scheduled for 12.30 pm on Saturday was shifted to 3 pm to allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make promises in an Ajmer rally at 1 pm. Parties are barred from making policy statements as soon as the schedule of elections is announced.
The Model Code of Conduct sets in soon after the Election Commission announces poll schedule.
Chhattisgarh, which has been a hotbed of Maoist insurgency in recent years will have a two-phased election. The first phase comprising 18 seats is in the heart of left-wing violence affected areas. All the other States will voting for elections on a single day.
The notification for 18 Assembly seats in Chhattisgarh will be issued on October 16 and filing of nominations completed on October 23. Polling in the first phase is expected on November 10.
Polling during the second phase in Chhattisgarh will be on November 20 with last date for filling nominations slated as November 2.
Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram election scheduled is common. The notification for elections will be issued on November 2 and the last date for nominations in November 9. Polling in both the States will be conducted on November 28.
Similarly, Rajasthan and Telangana will have a common poll schedule with notification for elections to be issued on November 12 and polling on December 7. Last date for filing nominations in the two States is November 19.
The trends in the State elections will be the first big indicator of which way the wind is blowing as nation prepares for general elections early next year. In many ways, the results will reflect the mood of the nation and provide an opportunity to redraw their strategies for next year.
As per current trend, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is ahead of its rival the Congress in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and the grand old party’s only hope in the Hindi heartland is to reclaim Rajasthan.
The Congress efforts at forming a joint front with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Madhya Pradesh collapsed earlier this week as the two failed to agree on seats to be contested.
Samajwadi Party (SP) of Akhilesh Yadav has also indicated its unwillingness to join hands with the Congress, thereby giving a boost to BJP’s hopes of retaining the State inspite of 15 years of anti-incumbency.
Upsetting the Congress applecart in Chhattisgarh has been an alliance between BSP and Chhattisgarh Janata Dal of Ajit Jogi. The BJP is confident of retaining the State in the current scenario.
Telangana, which has long been seen as a fiefdom of Telangana Rashtriya Samithi (TRS) leader and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, is witnessing hectic activity with traditional rivals Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the Congress and the Communist Party of India (CPI) planning to join hands. Rao remains the common foe that the Congress, TDP, CPI and other small parties in the State hope to trounce.
In Mizoram, the Congress has to defend an incumbent government and it will be interesting to see if it would succeed in the endeavour.
The final results on December 11 will decide whose gamble finally paid off. Till then there are many a slip between the cup and the lip.