This Sunday, there is excitement galore – as the election results for Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh (MP) and Chhattisgarh come out.
So far, the BJP appears confident of winning all four states while a cautious Congress seeks to delink the outcome of these assembly polls from the Lok Sabha elections next year.
Meanwhile, the public in the capital is keenly watching the performance of the debutant that has created a stir – Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
A BJP-victory in the four states, accounting for 72 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, could strengthen the position of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi – whose aggressive campaigning across India has sent the BJP’s hopes soaring.
The Congress appears to be bracing for a tough Sunday, however.
Exit polls predict its ouster from Delhi and Rajasthan, besides failure to dethrone the BJP in MP and Chhattisgarh – where chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh, respectively, are looking to win a third consecutive term.
None other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said the Congress would go into the general elections with self-confidence “irrespective of assembly election results.”
Even Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh told HT on Saturday that “these results will have no bearing on the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.”
Congress leaders are also reminding us that that in December 2003, the party had lost Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to the BJP – yet went on to win the Lok Sabha elections, five months later.
But the biggest setback for the Congress could be losing Delhi after 15 years – which is largely being attributed to the emergence of the year-old AAP led by Arvind Kejriwal.
The AAP has turned the contest for the capital triangular and thrown the calculations of both BJP and Congress haywire.
All eyes remained focused on Sheila, Kejriwal contest in New Delhi
Even Congress managers privately admit that though Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit successfully ran the city-state for 15 years, a possible defeat could owe to voters’ urge for change.
And yet, the same logic does not appear to apply to MP and Chhattisgarh, where the BJP is hopeful of scoring a hat-trick.
Congress-ruled Rajasthan – which has seen an anti-incumbency vote exercised every five years over the past two decades – may prove tough for chief minister Ashok Gehlot, despite his populist schemes.
What’s more, a poll outcome on Sunday favourable to the BJP will give the principal opposition party further ammunition to attack the Congress-led UPA government during the ongoing winter session of Parliament – scuttle any move to bring in the controversial, eight-year-old communal violence bill that currently has the House divided.
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