Assembly polls: Litmus test for UPA, Oppn, Anna
The Election Commission has announced the dates for assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur and set the ball rolling for a hectic political beginning to the New Year. Nagendar Sharma reports. The battle begins, officiallyindia Updated: Dec 25, 2011 09:08 IST
The Election Commission on Saturday announced the dates for assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur and set the ball rolling for a hectic political beginning to the New Year.
The results of the elections, which will be spread over five weeks from January 28 to March 3, will be known on March 4, when the counting of votes will take place for all the five states.
Currently, the BSP rules UP, the NDA holds the reigns in Uttarakhand and Punjab and the Congress in Manipur and Goa.
These elections will also witness an interesting battle within the overall war – the results will test the hypothesis that Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign, targeted mainly against the UPA government at the Centre, can hurt the Congress’s electoral prospects.
All eyes will be on the seven-phase polls in UP, where the major political players — the ruling BSP and challengers Congress, Samajwadi Party and BJP — are already engaged in an acrimonious war of words which will only aggravate over the next two months.The timing of the polls means that the new UP assembly, in which no single party is expected to win an absolute majority, will elect members to the nine Rajya Sabha seats that are coming up for elections from the state before April 2.
And if, as widely predicted, the elections throw up a hung assembly, there is every possibility of a post-poll Congress-SP alliance. In such a scenario, the UPA’s numbers in the Rajya Sabha, where it is now in a minority with 94 out of 243 seats, is expected to rise slightly.
With the Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi concentrating on UP, the stakes are high for the party. The central government has also pitched in by deciding to provide reservations for minorities just before the elections were announced.
The ruling BSP and its main rival SP, are also leaving no stone unturned in their campaign preparations. In the other states going to polls, Punjab and Uttarakhand have shown a pattern of rejecting incumbent governments.
The tiny state of Goa, with a history of political instability, and the north-eastern state of Manipur, will play a role in increasing or decreasing the overall Congress score in the five states.