Elections dominated the most part of the 2018 year in India. In the first half of the year, legislative elections were held in Tripura, Nagaland, Karnataka, and Meghalaya. In the second half of the year, polls are due in five more states. The Election commission of India (ECI) has already announced poll dates for these five states. The states bound to go to polls between November 12 and December 7 are Rajasthan, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh (MP), Telangana, and Chhattisgarh. Among these five states, three are BJP ruled, one belongs to Congress, and one to Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). Rajasthan, MP, and Chhattisgarh are BJP ruled states while as Mizoram has a Congress Government, and Telangana is ruled by a regional party, TRS.
As election dates come closer, almost every media outlet in the country is busy in making assessments how the next round of the electoral challenge could impact India’s political equations.
Political analysts, media, and voters have many questions in their minds. Is Rahul Gandhi capable enough to neutralize the Modi factor? If Congress wins 100-150 seats, will regional parties side with it to form a collation government? And will the parties agree on a National Agenda? As the Congress wrestles with these issues, the challenge for Modi will be to not let the collation happen.
According to sources, the party is courting with small regional parties well as National Democratic Alliance partners like the Shiv Sena and Akali Dal, which have a strong influence in their regions. “These regional parties could give BJP more than 10 million votes which will be enough to win 100 seats, said a political analyst.
We conversed with several political analysts, media persons, and historians regarding the upcoming elections in India. They told us about the weaknesses and strengths of the different political parties in the field. They shared their own opinions on who has the chance to win polls in the poll-bound states. Let us take a look at what they shared with us.
Upcoming Legislative Elections In India – BJP’s Strengths and Weaknesses
When BJP came into power in 2014, Modi wave took the entire country into its grip. Congress party was marred by Satyam, Common Wealth Games, Coal, and Adarsh like scams.
The leadership of the party was in the hand of an uninspiring leader. Rahul Gandhi was still a politically immature leader. He had not the requisite qualities to lead the party or connect with the electorate. His communication skills remained below par. He failed to give convincing answers to the questions posed to him by the Media.
It was Amit Shah who first time used the word Pappu for him. BJP used Pappu name to mock Rahul Gandhi in the run-up to 2014 Lok Sabha elections. They even today call him Pappu in their Media speeches.
However, when we take a look at the current political situation in the country, a lot has changed in the last four years. The political scenario in the country has taken a U-turn.
Congress party now looks energized under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi. The pre-poll surveys predict that the popularity of BJP has gone down considerably in the last four years.
Congress is blaming BJP that it has failed to deliver on its promise of checking corruption and creating Jobs. It is blaming the party for the mismanagement of the economy with the policies like Demonetization, GST, and SC/ST act.
Given the current political scenario in India, political analysts believe that 2019 elections won’t be a cakewalk for BJP. They say party is facing several threats that will make victory difficult for it.
Threats to BJP in the Upcoming Elections
Compared to 2014 Lok Sabah polls, this time BJP has to cross several bumps to clear its path of victory to the upcoming legislative elections and Lok Sabah polls in 2019.
According to political analysts, Demonetization, GST, and SC/ST act are some of the factors that will make upcoming elections in India, a tough nut to crack for BJP. Besides Demonetization and GST, they say BJP is facing several other threats.
Here are some of the threats, that according to political analysts, BJP is facing in the upcoming elections:
Criticism for Demonetization and GST
Modi-led BJP in 2014 thrived on hope, promises of acceleration of the economy, and jobs for youth. To achieve its objective, the BJP Government introduced several new policies and schemes in the country. However, according to political analysts, many of the policies brought by BJP in the last four years of its rule have brought great hardships for the petty production economy, including agriculture.
“Congress is telling people that crony capitalism is on the rise, jobs for youth are on the decline and farming sector is in distress, and farmer suicides have become a stark reality. It is trying to woo voters on these issues which is obviously a worrying factor for BJP,” a BJP insider said on the basis of anonymity.
Congress Attempt to Balance Hindutva
Though it looked like corruption was the main reason for the defeat of Congress in 2014 Parliamentary polls, many political analysts believe that BJP thrived on Hindutva agenda and that was the main reason why it won Lok Sabha polls. However, they say this time it will be a tough task for BJP to intimate Hindu Voters that Congress is an anti-Hindu party.
Ashok Swain who is a Professor at Uppsala University, Sweden told Aljazeera news publication recently that BJP has long tried to project the Congress as an Anti-Hindu party. According to him, BJP succeeded in its agenda after Sonia Gandhi became the president of the party, however, Rahul Gandhi is now trying to change that perception.
“Way BJP projected Sonia as anti-Hindu, it can’t do the same with Rahul. It was easy in the case of Sonia because of her Italian origin,” he said.
According to him, BJP’s defeat in the recent Lok Sabha by-elections in Uttar Pradesh is one of its manifestations.
Growing incidence of Lynching and Communalism
Many people in India believe that that the growing incidents of lynching and communalism in the country are happening with the support of the state machinery.
Opposition Congress party has so far targeted PM Narendra Modi over the issue many times. The party even blamed him of maintaining ‘criminal’ silence over the issue.
“The growing incidents of communalism and lynching have galvanized the Congress for its survival. It has so far successfully used this two issue successfully to launch scathing attacks on BJP,” Manzoor Ali, a professor at Giri Institute of Development Studies, Lucknow told Rediff.com online publication.
Congress, SP, BSP, and regional parties Mahaghathbandhan
The biggest threat to BJP in the upcoming assembly elections will be Congress, SP, BSP, and regional parties Mahaghathbandhan as many regional parties including SP and BSP have decided to side with Congress to keep BJP away from their states.
“The party top brass is now busy in developing a poll strategy to disband the new collation that seems to build between Congress, BSP, JDU, AAP, SSP, and various other regional and national parties,” Prem Narayan Jah, a political analyst said.
According to Jah, the party is courting small regional political parties that have a very strong influence on some particular communities. “They can win 100 seats for the party in various states which will obviously open the gates of victory for BJP in these states”, Jah said.
“PM Modi has the ability to steer the party towards the path of Victory. He is a master strategist and has factored in these scenarios many times. But this time it won’t be that easy to crack the nut as it used to be in the past,” a BJP insider said on the basis of anonymity.
Apparent Reunification of Cast Vote against BJP
According to political analyst Manzoor Ali, BJP won 2017 UP assembly election because Yadav, Dalits, and Muslim votes were divided but this time it will be Muslims, Yadav, and Dalits versus Hindu upper caste vote.
“Muslims, Yadav, and Dalits constitute 49% of the Ups population hence the new oppositional alliance is proving bigger than its alliances,” he said.
According to him, increasing incidents of violence against Muslims, Yadavs, and Dalits have made them feel insecure. “In 2014, Muslims, Yadavs, and Dalits were divided. This time political parties like SP, Congress, and BSP is trying to take them into confidence so that vote against BJP,” Ali said.
Rupee Fall Against US Dollar and Rising Petrol Prices
The current price of the diesel and petrol are at record high. In some states, the prices of petrol are close to touching 100.
The sharp rise in petrol and diesel prices and the fall of rupee against US dollar has a rippling effect. It is obvious, all the commodities are transported on vehicles that run on petrol and diesel. The increase in petrol price pan India has resulted in the price rise of these commodities as well. The greatest sufferer of all this is a common man. The food will become costlier. It will result in fewer savings and more of expenditure.
The value of the India rupee, on the other hand, has fallen sharply against the US dollar. The fall in the rupee will again lead to inflation as prices of imported products like Medicine, fertilizers, crude oil will increase in the international market. It will push further towards poverty.
Congress Bounce Back- Will Rahul Steer the Party to the Victory Path
Congress which ruled India for nearly about six decades, it hardly looked that debacle of the party is so near when UPA started its second term on 22 May 2009. Soon after UPA started its second term, many corruption scandals came to the surface in key sectors.
A fraud to the tune of Rs. 1 lakh crore had already taken place in the allocation of 2G Spectrum in 2008. It was followed by Satyam scam in 2009, Common Wealth Games in 2010, Coal scam in 2012, and Adarsh scam in 2012.
Many political analysts believe that Sonia Gandhi's decision to stay away from the election was one more factor that led to the debacle of Congress party in 2014 Lok Sabha election.
The president of the party was missing from the campaign posters while as the leadership of the party was in the hands of an uninspiring leader, Rahul Gandhi.
On the other hand, BJP’s social media supremacy and effective use of media and data analytics to swing voters worked for the party while as Congress ran a flawed election campaign that failed to resonate with the public.
After 2014, Congress party continued to lose elections. It was completely wiped away from Uttar Pradesh (UP) by BJP. It also lost elections in Tripura, Goa, Gujarat, and many other states. It has been reduced to a minnow as the party is now in the rule in just four states.
However, political analysts say the 133-year-old party is now being energized under Rahul Gandhi, who recently launched several scathing attacks on Modi.
When Did Congress Bounce Back?
The bounce back of Congress started from Gujarat. Though Congress lost the election, it proved to be a nail-biting finish in one of the strongest belt of the BJP. The party is in the rule in Gujarat for near about three decades.
Out of 182 assembly seats, Congress managed to win 80 seats. It almost snatched the victory from the jaws of BJP.
There was a strong anti-incumbency factor against BJP in Gujarat. Congress alleged Government that it has failed to deliver on its promise of checking corruption and creating Jobs. Moreover, it blamed the party for the mismanagement of the economy with the policies like Demonetization, GST, and SC/ST act.
Despite its loss, Congress found itself in a completely new situation. It got confidence and under the new leadership of Rahul Gandhi made several strides in Gujarat, Karnataka, and Goa elections.
ABP & CVOTER Survey Predicts Congress Victory in Rajasthan and MP
The tail of the Congress party will be up this time as a survey conducted by ABP news and CVOTER has predicted that Congress is likely to win elections in Chhattisgarh, MP, and Rajasthan.
According to the survey, Congress will win 117 out of 230 assembly seats in MP, 54 out of 90 in Chhattisgarh, and 130 out of 200 in Rajasthan. According to this survey, BJP is expected to win 106 in MP, 33 in Chhattisgarh, and 57 seats in Rajasthan, the opinion poll predicted.
However, according to the survey, PM Modi is still the first choice of the people in the poll-bound states for the prime ministerial candidate and the Congress steward Rahul Gandhi is the second choice in these poll-bound states.
Poll Description State Wise
Rajasthan Assembly Election- What Is Congress and BJP Up To?
The elections are to be held for 200 assembly seats. With strong anti-incumbency factor against Vasundhara Raje’s BJP led government, Congress will look to make a strong comeback in the upcoming assembly election in the state. In the 2013 assembly election, BJP had won 163 seats while as Congress had barely managed to win 21 seats.
The increasing cases of lynching, violence, and communal hatred in the State is likely to make victory difficult for the ruling BJP., The party faced embarrassing defeats in the last three by-polls held in the Ajmer, Mangalgarh, and Alwar Lok Sabha constituencies of Rajasthan. All these three assembly seats were won by Congress.
According to political analysts, the “inaccessible” image of CM Vasundhara Raje’s in the state was one of the main reasons why BJP faced humiliating defeats in the by-elections.
When we take a look at the 201 assembly elections of Rajasthan, BJP had won 15 out of 16 assembly segments in Alwar and Ajmer. However, in recent by-polls, Congress made a strong comeback and won all the 16 assembly segments. The defeat in the by-polls came as a shock for the party.
The loss prompted Raje to start her Jan Samvads campaign to increase her contact with the people and bring an instant solution to their problems.
ABP and CVOTER have also predicted Congress as the winner in Rajasthan.
Madhya Pradesh- Will Anti-Incumbency factor Work for Congress
In BJP run Madhya Pradesh, the elections are to be held for 230 assembly seats to elect a new Government in the State. In the 2013 assembly elections BJP had won 165 seats while Congress had managed to win just 57 seats. Shivraj Chouhan became Chief Minister of the state third time. According to political analysts, this time there is a very strong anti-incumbency factor in the state. The political opponents of BJP whether it is Congress, BSP, SP or regional parties, they are trying to use ant incumbency factor against BJP. However, on the other hand, CM Shivraj CM Chouhan will be looking to repeat the performance and retain the chair fourth time.
Chhattisgarh- Will BJP Be Able To Continue Its Winning Streak
According to the ABP election survey, Congress is likely to break the winning streak of BJP in the upcoming assembly election in the State. Raman Singh led BJP government is in power in the state from last 15 years. The party came into the power in the state first time in 2003, since then it has been sweeping all the elections in the state. In 2013 assembly elections, BJP won 50 seats while as its arch-rival Congress managed to bag 39 seats. It was a close contest as BJP faced a tough challenge from the Congress party.
Mizoram- It Is Congress versus Regional Parties
In Mizoram, where Congress is in power since 2008, the ruling party has a strong contest with regional parties Mizo National Front (MNF) and Mizo Peoples Conference (MPC). There are total 40 assembly seats.
Telangana- Telangana Rashtra Samithi Looks Mightier
In Telangana, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is expected to give a tough contest to BJP and Congress. Being a strong regional party, it clearly has an edge over other parties. In 2014 assembly polls, it bagged 63 assembly seats out of 119 assembly seats.
To sum up, the Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi is trying its best to retain its lost glory, and it looks in a position to pose a challenge to the current BJP regime in the legislative assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh as well as in the 2019 General elections.
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