Assembly elections 2018: Poll results to be declared on December 11
The much awaited results of the assembly elections in five states of Rajasthan, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, touted as the semi-final to 2019 Lok Sabha polls, will be declared on Tuesday, December 11.
A defeat could put Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP on the back foot in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections while it could boost the chances for Congress which has been mobilising opposition leaders to form a common front against the saffron party.
In Rajasthan, voters are known to elect a new government every five years and if exit polls are anything to go by, history may repeat in assembly elections 2018, which witnessed a direct fight between the Congress and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Six of eight exit polls predict that the Congress will unseat chief minister Vasundhara Raje of the BJP. Two predict a close race between the parties.
A party needs 100 seats in the 200-member assembly in Rajasthan, where elections were not held on one seat because a candidate died. In 2013, the BJP got 163 seats and a vote share of 46.03%, a jump of about eight percentage points since 2008. The Congress bagged 21 seats with a vote share of 34.27%, a fall of a meagre two percentage points.
Telangana, which held its first assembly election, is likely to see a straight fight between the ruling TRS and the Congress-led opposition alliance amid the BJP’s effort to make it a three-way contest.
Telangana, where chief minister K Chandrasekhara Rao had advanced the elections due to be held along with the Lok Sabha elections next year, had seen an over 73% turnout on December 7. According to the exit polls, his gamble seems to have paid off with a majority likely for his Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the 119-member assembly.
Though KCR had sought to catch his adversaries off guard with early elections, the Congress had scrambled back with the four-party Maha Kootami, for which it had roped in its one-time fierce foe, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) of Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu. The other two parties in the grouping are the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS), floated by M. Kodandaram, who was once KCR’s friend in the Telangana statehood movement.
While the TRS is contesting all seats, there is some overlap among the grand alliance with the Congress and the TJS contesting more seats than allotted as per their agreement, leading to “friendly fights” in at least eight constituencies.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which had contested the 2014 polls in alliance with the TDP and had won five seats, is also contesting all the seats while Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is contesting eight assembly constituencies in Hyderabad and supporting the TRS elsewhere in the state.
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The Congress is seeking an unprecedented third consecutive term in Mizoram, its last citadel in the Northeast, even as the BJP seeks to open its account in the state it calls its “final frontier” in the 2018 assembly election. However, the main contest is between the Congress and the Mizo National Front (MNF).
Exit polls in the predominantly Christian state where polling was held on November 28 had indicated the 40-member assembly could be hung, with the MNF enjoying a slight edge. Other parties in the fray like the newly-floated Zoram Peoples Movement (ZPM), an alliance formed by two political parties and four groups, and the Meghalaya-based National People’s Party (NPP) could play a decisive role in such a situation.
Around 80% of the state’s 7.70 lakh voters, over half of which are women, had turned out in the elections, a dip from 83.41% in 2013, when the Congress had won 34 seats, the MNF five and the Mizoram People’s Conference bagged one seat.
But in recent months, Congress has suffered jolts as five of those legislators, including party vice-president and home minister R Lalzirliana and Assembly speaker Hiphei, left the party to join rivals. Chief minister Lal Thanhawla, 76, who is looking for a third term, has ruled out any anti-incumbency against his government.
The Congress and the MNF have fielded 40 candidates each, while the BJP is contesting in 39 seats, the ZPM in 35 and the NPP in nine.
Going by the exit polls, Chhattisgarh assembly election 2018 is precariously poised with four out of eight surveys giving the ruling Raman Singh dispensation a slight edge and the rest going with the Congress.
The BJP and the Congress are tied in a keen contest with Singh eyeing fourth consecutive term as chief minister and the Congress seeking to return to power after 15 years.
The election to the 90-member assembly was held in two phases: the first in 18 seats spread across eight Maoist-affected districts on November 12 and the then in 72 constituencies spread across 19 districts on November 20. Votes will be counted on December 11.
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Also testing his mettle is Congress rebel and Chhattisgarh Janta Congress (CJC) chief Ajit Jogi, who has teamed up with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party.
He is hoping to regain chief ministership — which he lost to BJP’s Raman Singh in 2003 — or play the kingmaker in case of a hung assembly on the back of the support from backward communities.
But, if the numbers put out by the exit polls are to be believed, Ajit Jogi’s gamble to ally with Mayawati may not have gone as per plans.
The CJC-BSP alliance has been given as little as three seats and a maximum of eight in the 90-member state assembly by exit poll analysts.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are locked in a neck and neck race in Madhya Pradesh, according to exit polls. The centrally located state had registered a turnout of around 75% in the November 28 assembly polls.
The 230-seat house has a majority mark of 116. While the BJP contested all 230 seats, the Congress fought on 229, leaving one to its ally, the Loktantrik Janata Dal of Sharad Yadav.
Other parties in the fray are the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party (SP), which partnered the Gondwana Gantantra Party after alliance talks with the Congress failed, and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The BSP has fielded 227 candidates in the state while SP and AAP have fielded 51 and 208 candidates respectively.
The BJP has been in power in the state since 2003 and is looking to retain power under the leadership of Shivraj Singh Chouhan who has been chief minister since 2005.
Even though Chouhan, is by all standards a popular chief minister and has made tangible improvements in governance, the BJP is now facing triple anti-incumbency, and charges of ignoring the farmers’ distress and the growing unemployment.
For the Congress on the other hand, the stakes could never be higher as it hopes to come back to power in the state which was once its bastion.
Since independence, the state has always been a Congress state, except for three short stints — in the late 1960s, post Emergency and in the early 1990s. However, the last 15 years have been the longest that the party has been out of power in the state.
In the previous election in the state, held in 2013, the BJP had won 165 sets with the Congress winning 58 seats.