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HT EDIT-Assembly polls: campaign bells ring, again The BJP has already begun working on state polls. The Opposition must wake up

August 19, 2019 05:52 AM

COURTERY HT AUG 19

Assembly polls: campaign bells ring, again
The BJP has already begun working on state polls. The Opposition must wake up
Even as the country has just moved on from the Lok Sabha elections, preparations for three important state Assembly polls have begun. Maharashtra has a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-SHIV Sena government led by Devendra Fadnavis; Jharkhand and Haryana have BJP governments, led by Raghubar Das and Manohar Lal Khattar, respectively. After completing their five-year terms, the chief ministers will return to the electorate. In all three states, the principal challenger is the Congress. If the Lok Sabha coalition stays intact, it will have an alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra, and with a group of regional formations in Jharkhand. Haryana’s political landscape also has smaller caste and regional parties.

The elections are important for three reasons. One, coming soon after the BJP’S spectacular national victory, it will be a test of whether the party’s popularity remains intact, or has increased or diminished. In this period, the Narendra Modi government has pushed through landmark decisions, including the changes in Jammu and Kashmir, which will figure in the campaign. Two, all three states are critical. Maharashtra is a key economic engine; it has witnessed a major social movement leading to additional reservations for Marathas; and it has had issues of agrarian distress. Haryana has faced serious law and order issues; there is a severe Jat-non Jat divide in the state; it is also home to new economic hubs. And Jharkhand, which has a high tribal population, has been the epicentre of battles around development and environment, and seen the rise and decline of Maoism. And finally, the elections will also be a test of the Opposition — and give a sense of whether they have revived in any form since the Lok Sabha rout.

What appears clear is that the BJP has, once again, hit the ground running first. Be it appointing state in-charges for elections, or even holding rallies (Amit Shah held one in Haryana last week), the party is deploying its energy with the aim to win. If the Opposition wants to pose a challenge, it needs to wake up.

 

 
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