New Delhi: The Congress and the BJP will be locked in the biggest popularity test ahead of Lok Sabha polls due next year when Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram vote in November and December.
Announcing the election schedule, Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath said yesterday that the results from the five states — three of them ruled by the Congress and two by the Bharatiya Janata Party — will be out on December 8.
While Chhattisgarh will see voting on November 11 and 19, the other four states will have a day’s balloting: Madhya Pradesh (November 25), Rajasthan (December 1) and Delhi and Mizoram (December 4).
Sampath said a total of 110 million electorate — out of the country’s 714 million — will be eligible to vote in the five states.
While the Congress rules Delhi, Rajasthan and Mizoram, the BJP governs Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Both the BJP and Congress vowed to sweep the polls. Political experts said it would be a key test for both parties in the run up to the parliamentary elections.
BJP’s Sudhanshu Trivedi claimed his party will retain power in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and oust the Congress in Delhi and Rajasthan. The mood in the country, he said, “is in favour of BJP”.
Rashid Alvi of the Congress said his party was confident of forming governments in all five states.
Political pundits were more guarded. Pradip Kumar Datta of Delhi University’s political science department said that the state elections “will be significant, and in a way will be a testing ground for (BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra) Modi.
“Unless the BJP does very well in these polls, it will not be able to attract allies (for Lok Sabha). “If the BJP does better than its earlier standing in the five states, it will be a clear demonstration of Modi’s vote catching abilities,” he said.
Nisar-ul Haq of the political science department of Jamia Millia Islamia, however, predicted “a very close fight between the Congress and BJP”. “It will be major election because it is coming right before the general election,” Haq said.
The Election Commission said by-elections will also be held for the assembly constituencies of Surat West in Gujarat and Yercaud in Tamil Nadu December 4 — along with voting in Delhi and Mizoram.