By Prarthana Mitra
The first phase of state assembly polls in Telangana, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan will begin next week, with Chhattisgarh already concluding its two-phase polling season on Tuesday. Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram will vote on November 28, and Rajasthan and Telangana on December 7.
The fate of 679 Assembly seats will be decided by these five states, with close contests between the BJP and Congress in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. In both states, the BJP has been in power for three terms and are currently battling anti-incumbency.
The results, to be declared on December 7, will measure the level of voter satisfaction with the ruling BJP-NDA alliance since it came to power in 2014.
With the second phase of state elections coming to a close in the sensitive state, Chhattisgarh recorded an overall turnout of 76.35 per cent with Kurud in Dhamtari district recording the highest voter turnout at 88.99 per cent.
A total of 72 constituencies in 19 districts went to polls on Tuesday, while the first phase held on November 12 across 8 Maoist-affected districts recorded a 76.39 per cent turnout. Amidst heavy security deployment across the state, sporadic violence was noted in these districts with over 5 casualties on both sides during the first phase.
With a total of 1079 candidates in the fray, the ruling BJP is up against the Congress and a third front led by BSP’s Mayawati and former CM Ajit Jogi (Janta Congress).
Amid chaos and hysteria over nominations, both BJP and Congress units in Rajasthan witnessed dismayed resignations as campaigning for the high-stake December 7 polls continued in full swing. After both parties kept going back and forth till the last hour, Monday ended with 2,212 candidates filing their nominations.
Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot were fielded by the opposition Congress, to pose the biggest challenge to outgoing CM Vasundhara Raje. Poll projections show that Congress has a good chance of reclaiming the state before the Lok Sabha polls next year.
Meanwhile, 23 thwarted hopefuls from BJP and Congress turned into rebels, vowing to contest as independents after violent protests broke out in Bikaner in support of Brahmin leader and former state minister BD Kalla, who was denied a ticket.
In Madhya Pradesh
BJP is reportedly eyeing more than 200 of the 230 Legislative Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, where it has won for the last 15 years, according to State Election-in-charge Dharmendra Pradhan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his November 18 rally in Indore specifically focused on the state’s first-time voters, and expressing hope that the party would net at least 70 percent of the youth votes in MP. ahead of the forthcoming assembly elections on November 28. Even though, historically speaking, BJP is expected to make a clean sweep in the state, bookmakers are predicting a swing in favour of the Congress edging out the ruling party.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi and BJP stalwart Amit Shah visited the poll-bound northeastern state on Tuesday to further their respective parties’ chances in the November 28 election. We want to make Mizoram a central hub in the North-East, Rahul Gandhi said during his Aizawl rally, adding that the MNF is helping destroy the culture of the state by helping the BJP to enter the state.
The ruling Congress is counting on current CM Lal Thanhawla to quell any opposition from the Mizo National Front (MNF) which is steadily rising in power. Poll projections have even given the MNF an edge over Congress in the state.
The ECC notified having received 3583 nominations for the assembly polls in the newly formed state. 119 constituencies will elect Assembly members on December 7, with K Chandrasekhar Rao leading the charge for TRS. The assembly was dissolved prematurely in September upon the insistence of the ruling TRS government.
The Election Commission has already issued notices to five leaders for violation of poll codes, including Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao, Congress leader Revanth Reddy, Telugu Desam Party leader Vanteru Pratap Reddy, and TDP leader Revuri Prakash Reddy. Complaints ranged from addressing a religious meeting on the eve of the polls, to threatening opponent leaders.
Around 32,796 polling stations have been created for voters’ convenience and 48,000 police and paramilitary personnel will be deployed on the polling day for their security.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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