All Eyes On Assembly Polls

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2022 may have entered with the new wave of the pandemic, but the year also is important in terms of politics as 5 states are set to go to elections. The Election Commission has already sounded the poll bugle for Assembly elections to Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Punjab, Manipur, and Uttarakhand. Out of the five states, the saffron camp enters the election as the incumbent party in four whereas Congress would desperately want to retain Punjab. Having said this, the BJP could rule Goa and Manipur only after dividing the other parties in 2017. This time around, a total of 18.34 crore electors will seal the fate of the parties in the five states. Out of this 8.55 crore are women electors, and 24.9 lakh first-time electors, meaning the women and youth would hold the key to the elections. On the other hand, with the Covid cases rising, India is poised to go for elections amid the third wave.  

Why are these polls crucial? With a multi-cornered contest in almost all the poll-bound states, polls will indicate the direction for the future. Significantly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is hoping for a hat trick in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP is trying to retain Uttar Pradesh, which has 403 Assembly seats. It also has 80 Lok Sabha seats. Whoever wins UP has a significant advantage in bidding for power in 2024. Secondly, it is a contest between brand Modi and the entire opposition. It is also held during the mid-term for Modi’s second innings. As the country copes with the continuing Covid, it will be a test for the Prime Minister to ensure that his popularity is intact. He might have an advantage over a divided opposition. Thirdly, the BJP depends totally on Modi as the party has not developed any strong state leaders except in UP. The Prime Minister has been its poll mascot. Fourthly, it will also be a test for the incumbent UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath. He is staking all to win the state again, whereas in the 2017 polls, he was merely an MP, and the party chose him after the elections. He has spent huge money on advertisements for propagating his achievements in the past few months. But historically, no one has won a second term since 1985 in the state.

In four states including Punjab, Manipur, Goa, and Uttarakhand, experts believe that there will be a direct contest between Congress and the BJP. Any additional win for Congress will give it a boost. The party should at least retain Punjab and grab Uttarakhand. Besides, two other regional parties, AAP and Trinamool, are also testing their luck. The results of these elections are set to signal whether the regional parties are the real challenger to the surging BJP. In most states, particularly in UP, the regional parties are fighting for their survival. Moreover, the results will also impact the upcoming presidential polls in June-July, since the MLAs form the electoral college. On the whole, the assembly polls would be a nail-biting event for all the stakeholders. All eyes will be on March 10 when the results are to be announced.

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