Chief election commissioner Sunil Arora (centre) with election commissioners Sushil Chandra (left) and Rajiv K...Read More
NEW DELHI: Political activities are set to become hectic with the
for five assemblies of
, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and
Even before the election schedule was announced, the concerned political parties had started campaigning in the four states of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Kerala and Union Territory (UT) of Puducherry.
The BJP and the Congress are the two main parties which are contesting in all the five assemblies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda besides other party leaders have already started campaigning and so has Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on behalf of his party.
These are the current political scenarios in the five assemblies.
Among the four states and one UT going to polls, West Bengal has the maximum number of seats - 294.
Trinamool Congress (
) supremo and West Bengal chief minister
, who won the 2011 and 2016
, is perhaps contesting her toughest political battle with the BJP posing a serious challenge to her.
Mamata is known as a street-fighter, who had parted ways with the Congress to form her own TMC and was successful in dislodging the CPI(M) government in the state which had been ruling for about 34 years.
While she tries to defend her government, the BJP has been making concerted efforts to defeat her at the hustings.
Besides these two, the CPI(M) and the Congress have turned friends from being erstwhile foes and have joined hands.
There is a competition among most of the parties except the BJP to woo the Muslim voters who comprise 30 per cent of the state’s population.
Besides the TMC, Congress and CPI(M), Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and cleric Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui, the fourth-generation descendant of Sufi saint Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiqui, are also making efforts to eat into the Muslim votes.
Siddiqui heads the popular shrine of Furfura Sharif in Hooghly district and has launched Indian Secular Front (ISF). He and Owaisi have compounded the troubles for Mamata Banerjee.
In the 2016 assembly elections, the TMC had won 211 seats. The Congress-Left alliance had won 77 with the Congress’s tally being 44. The BJP had contested 294 seats but had managed to win only six.
The AIADMK government led by Edappadi K Palaniswami faces an uphill task in these elections because of several reasons. With the party being in power for two consecutive terms, it faces an anti-incumbency mood this time around.
J Jayalalithaa had won in 2011 and then breached the cycle of alternate governments to retain power in 2016. Though AIADMK lost 14 seats compared to the 2011 election, it still won a majority by winning 136 seats in the 234-member assembly. The DMK got 89 seats, bagging 66 more than it had done in 2011. Its alliance partner the Congress won just eight.
Much has happened since 2016. Jayalalithaa passed away the same year which led to power struggle between Palaniswami and the incumbent deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam. Finally, the two called truce and the chief minister’s reins came in the hands of Palaniswamy.
Jayalalithaa’s former aide VK Sasikala, who sought to assert herself, was expelled from the party. She was jailed for about four years and has been discharged recently. Her presence has rattled the ruling AIADMK which had tied up with the BJP. Sasikala would play an important role in the way AIADMK fares in the upcoming elections.
Governments in Tamil Nadu have been changing every election for several decades, except for 2016 when Jayalalithaa led her party to victory. Led by Stalin, the DMK sees a fair chance to defeat the AIADMK at least this time. Stalin’s father who served as the state’s CM on several occasions also died in this period.
The forthcoming elections are the first one in the history of the state when it is bereft of a Tollywood personality-turned-politician.
Like Tamil Nadu, Kerala has also witnessed rotation of power between the CPI(M)-led LDF and the Congress-led UDF in every election for several decades.
In the 2016 assembly elections, the LDF won 91 seats while the Congress led UDF got 47 in the 140-member house. The BJP opened its account in the previous election.
The Congress expects to defeat the LDF in the rotation of power. Former party president Rahul Gandhi has started campaigning in the state much in advance. The forthcoming elections hold special significance for him as he is the Lok Sabha MP from Wayanad in the state.
However, the LDF does not see much anti-incumbency mood against its government. It had performed the best in the recent local elections.
On the other hand, the BJP hopes to improve its tally in the backdrop of the Sabarimala agitation. It had also done comparatively better in the local elections.
The BJP came to power in Assam in 2016 by defeating the Congress government led by Tarun Gogoi, who had won three consecutive elections since 2001 and was in power for 15 years.
The BJP won 60 of 126-member Assam assembly. While the BJP contested 89 seats, its ally AGP contested 30 and won 14; while BPF contested 13 and won 12.
The Congress fought on 122 seats and was victorious on just 26.
The BJP seeks to defend the government this time while the Congress hopes to take advantage of the anti-incumbency mood due to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
The Congress had joined hands with Lok Sabha MP Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF in a bid to get the Muslim votes.
The political climate is already charged up in the UT as the Congress government led by V Narayanasamy fell on February 22 after it failed to prove majority in the 33-member assembly. The development took place as six of its MLAs and one from its alliance partner DMK resigned bringing the ruling coalition to minority.
The Narayanasamy government was reduced to minority and the BJP got the advantage of three MLAs nominated by the centre.
Battle lines are drawn in the union territory with the Congress and DMK on side of the pole while the coalition of the BJP, the AIADMK and the AINCR forming the other pole.
Meanwhile, as per the election schedule announced by
chief election commissioner Sunil Arora
, elections to five assemblies of West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry would be held from March 27.
West Bengal would vote in maximum eight phases from March 27. Assam would vote in three phases, also from March 27.
Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry would vote in one phase on April 6.
The results would be announced on May 2.