Himachal to go to polls in November, Gujarat in December
The Election Commission may declare the dates of elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh in mid-October. However, EC may reportedly go for a single-phase, mid-November election in Himachal and then a two-phase poll in December in Gujarat. The EC also plans to hold elections for four LS seats, two in UP and two in Rajasthan. What is the political scenario in these states? Know more!
What preparations has the EC undertaken?
EC is in the advanced stages of preparation for both polls. A team visited Himachal to assess preparations earlier this week. Gujarat's poll preparedness will be checked in October. Moreover, this is the first time that state polls will be held using voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines. VVPATs will provide voters with a feedback paper indicating their voted candidate and party.
What is the scenario for Himachal elections?
Elections in Himachal will be a BJP versus Congress affair. Since 1985, the state has never re-elected any party to power. Presently, the state has a Congress government led by Virbhadra Singh, which holds 36 seats in the 68-member Assembly.
How are the parties faring in Himachal?
In Himachal, BJP leaders like Satpal Satti and Jairam Thakur and RSS pracharak Ajay Jamwal are in the fray for CM candidature. However, BJP may contest polls without announcing a candidate, lest it dent their poll prospects. Congress faces in-fighting between state president Sukhvinder Sukhu and CM Virbhadra Singh, who faces many corruption charges. Singh has been demanding a "free hand" for poll preparation.
Meanwhile, what about Gujarat?
Gujarat has new players like AAP, which has begun its Gujarat campaign, and Hardik Patel, who led the mass agitation for the Patidar community reservation, contesting elections. Thus, what was always a Congress-BJP battle might now be a three-way battle between Congress, AAP and BJP.
How are the parties faring?
BJP has ruled in Gujarat for 19 years. Anti-incumbency may have set in as was evident in the panchayat elections in 2015. In 2010, it had won 30 of 31 district panchayat seats. However, in 2015, it won only six, while Congress increased its tally from 1 to 24. This also led to Anandiben Patel being removed as CM to make way for Vijay Rupani.
State polls might be a "litmus test" for parties
As Modi faces heat over government's economic policies, detractors feel the tide might be turning against BJP. Thus, polls in Gujarat and Himachal may work as a "litmus test" to decide if BJP will be successful in its goal of a "Congress mukt bharat" or will Congress resurrect itself and make a comeback. Thus, these elections may give parties their 2019 LS election strategy.