Here's a statistic to give you an idea as to how significant the results of the five assembly elections, which will be decided on Thursday, are.
If the four states and one union territory were to be a country, it would be the fifth most populous in the world — more than Brazil. The results of the elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, West Bengal and Puducherry can make or break careers, reshape alliances and possibly create history.
The polls have high stakes involved, and they could as well be seen as a mini mandate for or against the Union government. The single largest opposition party at the Centre — the Congress — will also be viewing the elections as an acid test, and an opportunity to reassert their presence on the political landscape. Here are some of the things to look out for on 19 May:
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Political parties' and their fortunes
In Tamil Nadu and Kerala, political observers are keenly watching if the trend of alternating political fronts will end. In West Bengal, we will know if Mamata Banerjee's call for 'poriborton' still resonates with the people. For Assam, the election may be a historic one if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) becomes part of a winning coalition. The election in Puducherry will reveal if Chief Minister N Rangasamy's welfare measures will help him retain his hold on the popular mandate in the Union Territory.
In Tamil Nadu, for the first time, an alternative front has taken shape, with the stated objective of ending the hegemony of the DMK and AIADMK. While the coalition was hastily put together by political parties which have had divergent histories, they appear to have put their differences aside for now. But will their new-found camaraderie convince voters, is the big question.
Much attention will also be focused on Assam, where the BJP has entered into an alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad and the Bodo People's Front. The alliance had raised the political pitch on the emotionally fraught issue of illegal immigrants. There is expected to be much polarisation of votes between the BJP-led alliance on one hand, and the AIUDF-led by Badruddin Ajmal. The election will reveal whether the BJP's strategy of aligning with regional players, which found success in Jammu and Kashmir, will work its magic again.
The elections will also decide the fate of DMK's ageing patriarch M Karunanidhi and reveal whether he can still swing voters in his favour. Tamil Nadu is known to vote alternatively between the two major Dravidian parties in the state. Even though majority of exit polls predicted a DMK sweep in the southern state, there is a strong possibility that Jayalalithaa might come back in a historical win for a second term.
While Karunanidhi has not lost a single assembly election in his long political career, he might have a tough time reviving the DMK's fortunes this time.
Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee had created electoral history in 2011 when she ended the 34-year-long Communist rule in West Bengal. However, after a series of corruption scandals and allegations of political violence, her popularity is now under serious question. However, the exit polls predicted a TMC sweep in the state. Interestingly, all exit polls predicted anti-incumbent mood in all states except West Bengal.
The Assam election has seen a high-pitched fight between Sarbananda Sonowal and Badruddin Ajmal. Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa and Kerala CM Oommen Chandy are facing allegations of corruption, as do several ministers in the Mamata Banerjee government. It remains to be seen whether the charges affect their electoral fortunes.
The elections are also seen as a test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as he has campaigned in West Bengal, Assam and Kerala. These have been states where the BJP has not made major inroads till now. The polls will reveal whether the Modi wave still has the force that it did in 2014. The results on 19 May will also determine how the remaining three years of PM Modi's tenure will shape up.
Watch us for a detailed analysis on the election results on Thursday morning.
Updated Date: May 19, 2016 06:31 AM