NEW DELHI: In what is seen as a semi-final to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, five states — Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telangana — will go to polls between November 12 and December 7 and declare popular verdict on December 11.
The results are likely to set trends for 2019 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek to renew his 2014 mandate. While Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao advanced Assembly elections to take benefit from lack of Opposition in the state, the BJP is also drawing comfort from Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati not following the grand alliance script in the three party-ruled states, where the party is fighting antiincumbency of its chief ministers — Vasundhara Raje (Rajasthan), Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh) and Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh).
The saffron party appears at ease only in Chhattisgarh after the former state Congress strongman Ajit Jogi floated his own outfit Janata Congress Chhattisgarh, which would contest elections in alliance with the BJP, setting up for a triangular contest. The five poll-bound states account for 83 Lok Sabha seats out of which the BJP had bagged 53 in 2014 polls.
Given the bitter Karnataka experience, where the Congress and JD(S) stitched together a post-poll alliance, BJP chief Amit Shah is taking no chances in the three party-held states.
While Chouhan and Singh would be seeking fourth record terms, Raje is up against the trend of government being changed every five years in Rajasthan. Meanwhile, the Congress is seeking to cash in on the inchoate rage among farmers against the Modi government over agrarian distress, the middle class’ anger against employment squeeze and rising fuel prices.
According to political observers, any setback for the BJP in party-governed states will galvanise the Opposition. On the other hand, if the BJP wins, it would set Shah on an invincible march to New Delhi in 2019 as well.