Saturday, November 23, 2019
Follow us on

TOI EDIT-Median Phase We will cross the halfway mark today in a competitive, angry and polarising election

April 23, 2019 05:36 AM


Median Phase
We will cross the halfway mark today in a competitive, angry and polarising election
By the end of the third and largest phase in which 116 constituencies go to the polls today in 16 states and Union territories, voters will have chosen Lok Sabha MPs for over 300 seats. The third phase involves 26 seats in Gujarat, 20 in Kerala, 14 each in Karnataka and Maharashtra, and scattered seats in key states such as Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Bengal and Chhattisgarh. Of these BJP had performed impressively in Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, UP and Chhattisgarh in 2014 and must defend over 60 sitting seats this time. Prospective losses here will have to be compensated in Odisha, Bengal and Kerala.

In Gujarat, the party will aim to repeat its 2014 clean sweep of all 26 seats. The allure of voting for a compatriot PM will play out strongly among Gujaratis. However, Congress cannot be written off after the 2017 assembly polls when it nearly triggered an upset. Underlying issues like water scarcity, stagnant farm and dairy yields remain.

After two failed attempts in 2014 and 2016, BJP is making another spirited attempt to break into Kerala’s rigid LDF-UDF duopoly. It has campaigned hard on the Sabarimala issue but may find itself in the reckoning in only two to three seats. Congress-led UDF has been boosted by Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest from Wayanad even as an aggressive CPM finds itself at a distinct disadvantage in Lok Sabha polls owing to its declining national stakes. Hoping that the Lingayat anger over separate religion status has subsided and without JD(S) splitting opposition votes, Congress is aiming to recover ground in the Mumbai-Karnataka and Hyderabad-Karnataka regions.

In western Maharashtra, both BJP-Shiv Sena and Congress-NCP are challenged by complaints from disillusioned voters of water scarcity. Across India, access to water is becoming a major campaign issue with many candidates facing citizen anger. The third phase in UP will cover many Yadav bastions and SP will hope that the Akhilesh-Mayawati joint rallies will convince Dalits to vote SP rather than BJP in the absence of BSP candidates. The battleground will shift to the Hindi heartland in the remaining four phases. BJP has fallen back these days on intense Hindutva-national security rhetoric, which seems to indicate uncertainty on whether talking up its development record can deliver the goods. This can be expected to hit a feverish pitch and sparks are certain to fly.


Have something to say? Post your comment