Rajasthan, Bengal bypolls: Litmus test for Mamata and Raje
India's two women CMs from rival parties, WB CM Mamata Banerjee and Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje, face an acid test on their respective home turfs before 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In WB, the Uluberia LS constituency and Naopara assembly seat are up for grabs. In Rajasthan, voting is on for Ajmer and Alwar LS seats and Mandalgarh assembly seat. Here's more about it.
WB bypolls have been hyped as a straight contest between organizational strength (Trinamool) and communal forces (BJP). Moreover, Mukul Roy, Mamata's ex-confidant, is the BJP' star-campaigner, which is trying to gain a foothold in Mamata's den. So, there is an added pressure on Roy to prove his mettle. Similarly, Mamata is claiming the seat to show that Roy's defection failed to affect her party.
Interestingly, as per 2011 census, Uluberia has 45% Muslim population. However, RSS-backed Hindutva brigade has emerged recently. Among mainstream parties, only BJP has fielded a Hindu candidate, Anupam Mallick. They are hoping that Muslim votes will be divided among CPM, Congress and Trinamool, leaving the Hindu votes entirely for BJP. They also had triple-talaq petitioner Ishrat Jahan campaign for them to woo "progressive Muslims."
Rajasthan's bypoll is touted as a semi-final before the crucial assembly polls this year. Further, the by-elections are being held four days after Padmaavat's controversial release. Rajputs, nearly 2L in Ajmer, have claimed they will vote against BJP. Congress's Sachin Pilot has been campaigning hard. Even if they snatch one seat from BJP, it will be a great morale-booster for the down-on-luck Congress.
Death of the sitting MPs/MLAs necessitated these polls. The results will be announced on February 1. BJP is reportedly hoping that a win in one of the WB bypolls will have a ripple effect in the upcoming Tripura polls, where BJP hopes to break Left's monopoly. In Rajasthan, Raje has to prove to BJP that she isn't an unpopular CM facing anti-incumbency.