The Election Season Is Back!

An electoral officer inking the finger of a woman during a poll Source: Bloomberg

India is once again going to the polling booths. The Election Commission has announced the dates for the Assembly polls in Haryana and Maharashtra along with the bypolls to other State Assembly and Lok Sabha seats. The polling will be carried out on October 21, while counting of votes will be done on October 24.

Maharashtra’s Churning

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis along with Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray
The upcoming Maharashtra Assembly Elections are going to be a litmus test for the popularity of Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) during a time when the government is being blamed for the economic slowdown. It would be the first time that the ruling party at the Centre and the state (in alliance with Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena) would face the electorate after its decision to abrogate Article 370 that provided special provisions to Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly, it is a reckoning for the Indian National Congress (INC) which has lately ceded its space to the right-wing Nationalist party. In the recently held Lok Sabha elections, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance clinched 41 out of the total 48 seats. While the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party could only win 5 seats, two seats went to the others.
After the Election Commission announced the Assembly elections on 21 September, the competing parties have been proactive in devising strategies to win the 288-seats strong Assembly. On September 30, BJP and Shiv Sena finalised their alliance for the polls four days before the last date for filing nominations. According to Times of India, BJP and Shiv Sena will contest on 162 and 126 seats respectively, giving a small quota of this share to the coalition partners. Aditya Thakeray will be the first member of the Thackeray clan to contest the elections.
On the other hand, INC and NCP have decided to contest on 125 seats each, leaving the rest for the friendly parties in the state. INC’s first list of 51 candidates doesn’t feature some big names like Sushil Kumar Shinde and Milind Deora. The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which didn’t participate in the Lok Sabha elections, is likely to contest on 150 seats. Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi has announced 142 candidates and All India Majalis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which won the Lok Sabha seat of Aurangabad, has pitched 21 candidates on the battlefield thus far.
The desertions and resignations are the rage, as is the case during every election. Two INC leaders and one NCP politician switched sides and joined BJP. Also, 200 Shiv Sena workers resigned from the party over Navi Mumbai seats being given to BJP.

Haryana’s Battlefield

Haryana’s CM Manohar Lal Khattar will be contesting from Karnal

As the last date for filing nominations for the Legislative Assembly elections in Haryana looms nearer, major political parties are releasing their list of candidates. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its first list of candidates for 78 seats. According to the list, Haryana CM ML Khattar will be contesting from Karnal. Also, wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt will be contesting from Baroda, ex-hockey captain Sandeep Singh from Pehowa, and wrestler Babita Phogat will contest from Dadri.

Meanwhile, Congress on Saturday finalized the names of candidates for 50 seats but it is yet to be published. It is likely to be announced by Tuesday. Also, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Sunday came out with the list of 41 candidates.

Dushyant Chautala-led Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) has released its second list of candidates for 15 seats. Former minister Mange Ram has been made party candidate from Radaur assembly seat, party leader Sanjay Dalal will contest from Bahadurgarh assembly seat and former MLA Moola Ram from Nangal Chaudhary seat.

Byelections Galore

Bypolls will be held for 11 seats in Uttar Pradesh

Along with the Legislative Assembly elections, the bypolls will be held in 64 seats including Arunachal Pradesh (1), Assam (4), Bihar (1), Chhattisgarh (1), Gujarat (4), Himachal (2), Kerala (5), Madhya Pradesh (1), Meghalaya (1), Odisha (1), Puducherry (1), Punjab (4), Rajasthan (2), Sikkim (3), Tamil Nadu (2), Telengana (1), Uttar Pradesh (11).

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday announced the names of its candidates for bypolls to 32 assembly constituencies, spread across several states. Congress on Sunday announced its candidates for the bypolls of one parliamentary constituency in Bihar, and four legislative assemblies in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

The election body said that the bypolls in West Bengal will not take place during the time of Durga Puja. The date for the byelections in Karnataka, in the wake of the disqualification of 17 INC and JDS MLAs, was changed as the Supreme Court is yet to pronounce its verdict on the issue.