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  Opinion   Edit  07 Oct 2018  Polls in five states & voter perceptions

Polls in five states & voter perceptions

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Oct 8, 2018, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Oct 8, 2018, 12:17 am IST

As for Rajasthan, the state has a record of defeating incumbents in each Assembly election.

But since only five months separate the five state polls and the Parliament election this time around, the idea has gained ground that the Assembly results will influence the national election. (Representational image)
 But since only five months separate the five state polls and the Parliament election this time around, the idea has gained ground that the Assembly results will influence the national election. (Representational image)

The announcement by the Election Commission of Assembly poll dates for five states — where voting will take place between November 12 and December 7 — formally imparts a new dynamics to national politics. This is on account of  calculations being made that the results of these polls will impact the next Lok Sabha election, due in May, 2019.

Such thinking is widespread although voters generally vote differently in state and national elections. But since only five months separate the five state polls and the Parliament election this time around, the idea has gained ground that the Assembly results will influence the national election.

 

Such a hypothesis perhaps pertains principally to the BJP-run states of Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Since these are run by the BJP, which on account of its close links with RSS is known to be a party driven by the Hindu-supremacist ideology, perhaps the state elections will give the country an idea whether the majority Hindu voters plumb for the party in power in these states in spite of sharp questions being asked of its record in office.

In Chhatisgarh and MP, the BJP is a three-time incumbent. Will it win a fourth term? Should this happen, will it be due to the Hindutva factor or due to tiny regional parties- such as the BSP — eating into the vote of the Congress, which is BJP’s real challenger in these states? These are also the imponderables which are likely to matter in the Lok Sabha poll.

 

As for Rajasthan, the state has a record of defeating incumbents in each Assembly election. Will that happen this time too, as many expect. Or, will the Modi factor — since Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known to campaign vigorously in Assembly elections — bail out the BJP?

Since the Modi factor looms larger than life in the BJP’s calculations, many may be apt to see the results of the BJP-ruled states as something of a referendum on Mr Modi’s own leadership, although this should not, strictly speaking, be true.

Besides the BJP-ruled northern states, in tiny Mizoram in the northeast it is the Congress which is a two-time incumbent and will be up against a regional party, the Mizo National Front. In Telangana, the only southern state to have elections in this batch, it is to be seen if the Congress combining with the TDP, with which it has been at odds for decades, can pose a real challenge to the ruling TRS of CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who was the winner by far in 2013. If this comes about, it may be a sign that politics are changing in significant ways.

 

Tags: election commission, lok sabha elections, assembly poll