iconimg Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Brajesh Kumar, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 04, 2014
Although the Congress and the BJP have already initiated their first moves, the big picture is yet to emerge from the initial rounds of allegations, big blows and pin pricks that the two major parties are engaged in as warm-up to the 2014 big fight. There has been a fair bit of clarity on which party has a firmer footing in which state, for sure, but the line sometimes gets blurred.

HT spoke to a number of political commentators to figure out which are the states where each party hopes to win and where the stakes are equally placed.

Sandeep Shastri, pro vice-chancellor, Jain University and national coordinator for Lokniti, a research programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing States (CSDS), said the Congress’ disadvantage is that it’s suffering from double anti-incumbencies -- at the Centre and at the states where it is in power.

“The states where the party is hit hardest by the anti-incumbency factor are Haryana, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand.” But the only good news, he said, could come from Assam, Kerala and Karnataka.

Manoj Sinha, a political science teacher in Delhi University, agreed with Shastri: The Congress would have to win Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Assam to be in the race for Delhi.

For the BJP, the obvious way forward, according to Jai Mrug, another political commentator, is to sweep the states which it had won in the recent assembly elections.

“Undoubtedly, states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Gujarat are going the BJP way. The only question is how big the win will be,” he said.

Shastri summed up: “There may be a northwestern monsoon and southeastern drought for the BJP.  But the Congress cannot bank on the drought as most of these states are non-Congress.”

Finally, Badri Narayan, a social historian at GB Pant Institute of Social Sciences, Allahabad, singled out Maharashtra, Karnataka, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh that would prove crucial for both the parties. “Whoever wins these states could win the elections.”