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How Odds Stack Up In 5 State Polls

By Aditi Phadnis
June 26, 2023 18:34 IST
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What are the political equations, the challenges, and the threats?


IMAGE: Union Home Minister Amit A Shah with Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga, second from left, during the foundation stone laying of several infrastructural projects in Aizawl. Photograph: ANI Photo

Mizoram (40 seats; halfway mark: 21)
End of the current assembly's term: December 17, 2023
Party in power: Mizo National Front, led by Zoramthanga

The Christian-majority state shares a border with restive Manipur, and 78-year-old Zoramthanga, who was once a lieutenant of underground leader Laldenga, has repeatedly stressed that his state needs to tread cautiously.

The influx of Kuki refugees from Manipur could have a destabilising effect on the state, while at the same time, giving rise to demands from the Greater Zo, the tribal community that is in majority in Mizoram.

Although the Mizo National Front is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led North-East Democratic Alliance and an ally of the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre, the party has no truck with the saffron party in Mizoram.

In the 40-member assembly, the ruling MNF has 28 members, Zoram People's Movement has six, the Congress has five, and the BJP has one.

Zoramthanga has said that the Congress is no longer a 'giant opponent and threat' to the MNF as the party has 'lost influence' in the Centre, North East, and Mizoram.

IMAGE: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel flags off Doctor Tumcho Duar during the campaign in Kondagaon, June 7, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

Chhattisgarh (90 seats; halfway mark: 46)
End of the current assembly's term: January 3, 2024
Party in power: Congress, led by Bhupesh Baghel

In 2018, the Congress wrested the state from the BJP with a convincing margin, winning 68 seats, leaving just 15 for the BJP.

Since then, the BJP has not been able to get its act together, and Bhupesh Baghel has consolidated his position, both in the state and the party.

The Janta Congress Chhattisgarh, which won five seats in the last elections, is at a loose end, and the Bahujan Samaj Party is flexible in terms of its loyalty.

Baghel has helmed a welfare agenda, but several corruption scams, including the liquor scam that is currently being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate, have marred his government's reputation.

Although he is facing pushback from his colleague, Tribhuvaneshwar Saran Singh Deo, his hold over the party is strong.

IMAGE: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, right and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan during the Kisan Kalyan Mahakumbh at Mohanpura dam in Rajgarh district, MP, June 13, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

Madhya Pradesh (230 seats; halfway mark: 116)
End of the current assembly's term: January 6, 2024
Party in power: Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Shivraj Singh Chouhan

In 2018, it was the Congress' Kamal Nath who led his party to victory in the state.

But the BJP's Shivraj Singh Chouhan toppled the government by inducting Jyotiraditya Scindia and his supporters from the Congress into the BJP.

This has led to some tension as, for instance, the BJP's Narendra Tomar, who is also a Union minister, comes from the same region as Scindia, and after being adversaries for many decades, they will now have to fight the election from the same side of the fence.

However, the Congress and Kamal Nath have made this election a do-or-die struggle -- to the point where Nath turned down the party's offer of making him party chief because he felt the Congress had a realistic chance of coming to power in the state.

The wild card in the state is the way its tribal population will vote: For the Congress or the ruling BJP.

IMAGE: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot at the inauguration of the Indira Gandhi Gas Cylinder Subsidy Scheme in Jaipur, June 5, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

Rajasthan (200 seats; halfway mark: 101)
End of the current assembly's term: January 14, 2024
Party in power: Congress, led by Ashok Gehlot

Ashok Gehlot has a twin challenge on his hands: One, proving conventional wisdom in the state wrong that assembly elections are a revolving door that favours the party in Opposition; and two, ensuring the BJP's organisational strength and skill do not work against the Congress's somewhat faction-ridden structure.

Smaller parties like the Bahujan Samajwadi Party, Bharatiya Tribal Party, Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, and Rashtriya Lok Dal are also in the fray.

The assurances that his primary Congress challenger, Sachin Pilot, has been seeking have not materialised.

So, while the Congress will fight the BJP, in a sense, it will also be fighting itself.

The BJP has not named anyone as its candidate for chief minister.

The party is still working out its strategy. But with both former CM Vasundhara Raje and Union Minister Gajendra Shekhawat, plus newly elevated Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, in the fray, the outcome could be interesting.

IMAGE: Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao. Photograph: ANI Photo

Telangana (119 seats; halfway mark: 60)
End of the current assembly's term: January 16, 2024
Party in power: Bharat Rashtra Samithi, led by K Chandrashekar Rao

This assembly election is a test for the BJP, rather than the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (formerly Telangana Rashtra Samithi).

Despite winning only one seat in the 2018 assembly election, the BJP has won many seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Telangana, as well as several by-elections.

K Chandrashekar Rao, who is considered a charismatic speaker and has followed a largely welfare agenda, started by having national ambitions, which he now seems to have abandoned.

Rao has a strong alliance with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, which is strong in Old Hyderabad.

He is looking to hand over the reins of power formally to his son, Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao.

However, his daughter Kalvakuntla Kavitha is under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate for her role in the Delhi excise scam, which involves many Telangana-based liquor barons.

Kavitha's detention could have an unpredictable impact on the election outcome.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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Aditi Phadnis
Source: source
India Votes 2024

India Votes 2024