The counting of votes in the recently-concluded Assembly polls in the five states of — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram — which are scheduled for Tuesday, is almost upon us. The results of the Assembly polls in these five states could draw the new battle lines between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government and the Opposition parties that are trying to come under one umbrella ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
To discuss about various permutations and combinations and the prospects ahead for the political parties a galaxy of panellists comprising of senior editors and invited experts will assemble on the Firstpost floor including Praveen Swami, Pragya Singh, BV Rao, Sanjay Kaul, Ajay Singh, Sandip Ghose, Advaita Kala, Rashid Kidwai, Sandipan Sharma, Sanjay Singh, Sreemoy Talukdar and Sumit Pande.
To be anchored by Naghma Sahar and Rupali Mehra, the live broadcast will start at 8 am on Tuesday (11 December) and continue till 3 pm.
While the votes will be counted on 11 December, exit polls conducted by various media outlets and survey agencies have predicted the Congress party's return in Rajasthan and a clean sweep for the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in Telangana. The polls have also given the Congress an edge over the BJP in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in fiercely-contested battles.
The surveys predicted that Mizoram, the only northeastern state now with the Congress, may see a hung Assembly with the Mizo National Front (MNF) holding the edge.
A favourable outcome for the Congress will establish the political stature of its president, Rahul Gandhi, among the opposition parties. Otherwise, the Congress will have no option but to lay down its weapons before the regional satraps in the Lok Sabha elections.
If the BJP fails to continue its winning streak, as the exit polls indicate, it will be a major blow for the ruling party ahead of the general elections. An aggressive BJP will have to be on the defensive vis-a-vis its allies. In such a situation, the allies may put pressure on the BJP on seat-sharing.
"The results of these elections will have a great impact on national politics. If the Congress wins at least two of the big states, the anti-BJP political parties are bound to come under Congress and will also strengthen Rahul Gandhi's acceptability among the opposition parties," said senior political analyst Abhay Dubey.
The coming months would be crucial for the opposition parties and would see their coming together to counter the BJP. Both the BJP and the Congress know that the election results would also pave the way for a realignment of alliance politics in the future.
The difficulty for the BJP is that it rules three of the five states whereas the Congress has no choice but to ensure positive results.
The Assembly election in the five states is the last hope for the Congress after keeping the BJP out of power in Karnataka by handing over the reins to the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) after the Assembly elections earlier this year.
Will KRS retain Telangana?
The fate of 1,821 candidates contesting the Telangana Assembly election will be decided on Tuesday when the counting of votes will be taken up.
The maiden polls for the 119-seat Telangana Assembly were held on 7 December with a voter turnout of 73.20 percent.
Chief Electoral Officer Rajat Kumar said necessary arrangements have been made for the counting day and the strongrooms, where EVMs are kept, secured with central paramilitary forces providing "first cordon of security."
One of the strongroom keys is kept with the external observer and as a precaution, political parties are also keeping a watch, he said.
The counting will begin at 8 am.
"EVMs will be brought out polling station-wise and kept at the counting centres which will have 14 tables (except in Medchal which will have 28). And counting will go on. This will be done after the completion of the full postal ballot count. Counting will be done in the respective constituencies," said Kumar.
"The winning candidate will be declared and certificate will be prepared after obtaining clearance from the Election Commission. With the approval of the ECI, the Chief Electoral Officer, will submit the list of winning candidates party-wise to the governor," he added.
Though some exit polls indicate a clear edge to K Chandrashekar Rao-led Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the "Praja Kutami" alliance of Congress, Telugu Desam Party, CPI and Kodandaram-led Telangana Jana Samithi, appears confident of forming the government in the country's youngest state, separated from Andhra Pradesh in June 2014.
"We will win 100 seats," Rao said repeatedly in campaign meetings.
Rahul Gandhi had said the alliance led by his party is confident of winning the election "hands-down" and claimed Rao was showing "signs of nervousness and insecurity" in meetings he addressed as the campaign winded down.
Predicting a fractured poll mandate in Telangana, the BJP claimed on Sunday it would play a "vital role" in the formation of the government in the southern state.
AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi Friday exuded confidence that his party would be successful in the Telangana assembly election.
The party has fielded candidates in eight assembly segments in Hyderabad and is supporting TRS in other segments.
Vasundhara Raje seeks a third term in Rajasthan
In Rajasthan, the voting was held on 7 December for 199 Assembly seats out of the 200, a key state which the BJP is fighting to retain. The voting took place in all the 51,687 booths set up across the state.
Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje (Jhalrapatan), Congress state president Sachin Pilot (Tonk), former chief minister Ashok Gehlot (Sardarpura) are among the 2,274 candidates whose fate would be decided on Tuesday.
The election in Ramgarh constituency of Alwar district was put off following the death of Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Laxman Singh. In about 130 constituencies, the contest occurred directly between the BJP and the Congress.
Rajasthan recorded a turnout of 74.21 percent in the Assembly election, around 1.02 percentage point less than a turnout of 75.23 per cent in 2013.
The polling percentage of female voters was higher (74.66) as compared to male voters (73.80), according to the final-voter turnout released by the Election Commission. The state has a total of 4.74-crore electorate, that included 2.47 crore males and 2.27 crore females.
Pokaran constituency in Jaisalmer district recorded the highest turnout of 87.47 percent, whereas the lowest turnout was in Marwar Junction seat of Pali district.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan battles anti-incumbency in Madhya Pradesh
Over 75 percent of voters in Madhya Pradesh on 28 November in the Assembly election where the incumbent government is seeking a straight fourth term in office.
Around 75 percent polling was recorded till 6 pm in Madhya Pradesh's 227 Assembly constituencies against 72.13 percent recorded in 2013 assembly polls, Election Commission officials had said in New Delhi.
In the state's remaining three Maoist-affected constituencies of Balaghat district's Baihar, Lanji and Paraswada, polling was recorded at 78 percent, 79.07 percent and 80.06 percent respectively. The polling in these three constituencies began at 7 am and finished at 3 pm.
Congress braves Mizo National Front challenge
The voting percentage in the election to the 40-member Mizoram state legislative Assembly held on 28 November stood at an impressive 80.15 percent. The voting percentage was estimated at 80.15 percent.
The voters' turnout was recorded at 81 percent in the last election in Mizoram in November 2013.
Polling by 7.7 lakh electorate in 1,164 polling stations across the state and 15 temporary polling stations specially erected for the Bru voters in Mizoram-Tripura border Kanhmun village in Mamit district was completely peaceful without any law and order problem reported from anywhere.
The poll turnout at the 15 temporary polling stations was 56.46 percent. The electorate sealed the fates of 209 candidates, including 15 women, belonging to the ruling Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC), opposition Mizo National Front (MNF), BJP, NPP, NCP, People’s Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM), unregistered Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) and Zoramthar. Result of the state poll will be declared on December 11 along with those of the four other election-bound states. The counting on 11 December will decide if the Congress remains or goes out of pwer in the state.
Counting to two-phase Chhattisgarh polls on Tuesday
The second and final phase of the Chhattisgarh Assembly election 2018 on 20 November saw a voter turnout of 71.93 percent, amid EVMs malfunctioning and missing names from voters' lists.
Polling began on a slow note in several constituencies because of the technical snag, but it picked up pace later. Jashpur saw 51.2 percent polling, Kunkuri recorded 50.1 percent, Pathalgaon 50.8 percent, Kurud 49 percent and Bharatpur-Sonhat, 47.82 percent.
Around 1.5 lakh security personnel were deployed across Chhattisgarh to ensure peaceful polling. The second phase of the election was held in 19 districts, including the Naxal-affected districts of Gariaband, Dhamtari, Mahasamund, Kabirdham, Jashpur and Balrampur.
The first phase of the polls on 12 November, held in 18 seats across eight Naxal-affected districts, had recorded a voter turnout of 76.28 percent. The votes will be counted on 11 December.
With inputs from PTI and IANS
Updated Date: Dec 11, 2018 14:08:52 IST