Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram voting today in big semifinal before 2019
Madhya Pradesh Election 2018: The one-day poll for Madhya Pradesh’s 230 assembly seats is essentially a direct fight between the BJP and the Congress, although Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party(SP) are also in the fray.Updated: Nov 28, 2018 09:02 IST
Hindustan Times, Bhopal/Aizwal
The Congress will be seeking to prise open the ironclad grip of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Madhya Pradesh and maintain its own sway over Mizoram, its last bastion in the northeast, as the two states vote on Wednesday in the middle stretch of assembly elections that will lead up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP, under long-time chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, will be up against the anti-incumbency factor in Madhya Pradesh, which it has ruled for three successive terms. In Mizoram, the Congress, under veteran Lal Thanhawla faces a tough challenge from the Mizo National Front (MNF) headed by former chief minister Zoramthanga as it attempts to win a third successive term in the Christian-majority state.
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Mizoram is one of only three states — apart from the Union territory of Puducherry — where the Congress remains in power. Punjab and Karnataka, where it is in a coalition with the Janata Dal (Secular), are the others, and the current round of assembly elections are a litmus test of its ability to stage a comeback. Polling has been completed in Chhattisgarh; Rajasthan and Telangana will vote on December 7 and the results in all five states will be declared on December 11.
Watch: What angry Mandsaur farmers could mean for the BJP in Madhya Pradesh
The one-day poll for Madhya Pradesh’s 230 assembly seats is essentially a direct fight between the BJP and the Congress, although Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party(SP) are also in the fray.
More than 50 million people are eligible to vote in the state to decide the fate of 2,899 candidates. The BJP has fielded candidates for all 230 seats while the Congress is contesting 229, leaving one seat, Jatara in Tikamgarh district, for the Sharad Yadav-led Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD).
Chief electoral officer V Kantha Rao said voting will begin at 8 am and end at 5 pm.
Both the Congress and BJP, whose charge was led by party president Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, respectively, expressed confidence that they would win. BJP president Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley also campaigned for the BJP in the state. Gandhi sought to rejuvenate the state unit by appointing veteran Kamal Nath as the Madhya Pradesh party chief in April this year and naming Jyotiraditya Scindia as the campaign leader.
BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said the work done by chief minister Chouhan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign appearance in the state were the party’s main assets. Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza said the party would win, claiming the BJP in the state appeared rattled.
Gandhi attacked Modi and his government for alleged corruption and failure to fulfil promises made in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and by Chouhan in 2013, and has promised a farm loan waiver within 10 days if the Congress is voted to power. Modi attacked the Congress for alleged corruption during its years in power and accused it of promoting dynastic politics
Security has been tightened along the Nadha Pradesh-Uttar Pradesh border, especially in Bhind and Morena in Chambal division and Satna and Rewa in the Vindhya region, and also in Mandla and Bhalaghat, where Maoist rebels have a presence.
In Mizoram, the fight is largely between the Congress and the MNF although the BJP is also seeking to make its presence felt. The BJP has made deep inroads in the northeast since the Modi government came to power at the Centre in 2014 and its performance in the Christian-majority state will be keenly watched.
In the battle for the 40-member Mizoram assembly, chief minister Lal Thanhawla of the Congress is seeking a hat-trick. As many as 209 candidates are in the fray in Mizoram. The Congress has fielded 40 candidates while the BJP and MNF are contesting 39 and 40 constituencies respectively. Around 770,000 voters will decide the fate of 209 candidates.
“In earlier polls, there was a clear fight between Congress and the MNF, but this time we have the BJP, the Zoram People’s Movement and the National Peoples’ Party as well, which could win a few seats. So there’s a possibility of a hung assembly,” said J Doungel, professor of political science at Mizoram University.
In keeping with past trends, a high voter turnout is expected in Mizoram in the eighth assembly polls since it was declared a state in 1987. The state had recorded 83.41% polling in 2013.
“We are all set for polling. We hope people will turn up in large numbers to cast their votes. We also expect the tradition of free, fair and peaceful polls in the state to continue,” said chief electoral officer Ashish Kundra.
To ensure smooth polling, 40 companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed in the eight districts of the state along state police personnel.
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First Published: Nov 28, 2018 06:53 IST