Madhya Pradesh voting November 28, Rajasthan December 7; results December 11
New Delhi: Assembly elections in five states, considered to be the semi-final to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, will be held in four phases between November 12 and December 7 and the results will be declared on December 11, the Election Commission announced on Saturday.
The elections will be held in three BJP-ruled states Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, TRS-ruled Telangana and Congress-run Mizoram. The term of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly (230 seats) is ending on January 7, 2019, Rajasthan (200 seats) on January 20, Chhattisgarh (90 seats) on January 5 and Mizoram (40 seats) on December 15.
Chief election commissioner O.P. Rawat announced the voting dates at a press conference on Saturday, immediately bringing in force the model code of conduct.
Assembly elections in the three states in the Hindi heartland will decide the fate of the BJP’s three popular chief ministers: Chhattisgarh’s Raman Singh, Madhya Pradesh’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the party’s only woman chief minister, Vasundhara Raje.
Setting the tone for parliamentary elections in May 2019, the outcome of the clash in these three BJP-run states will also reflect if the Congress, which is the main and direct rival of the BJP in these states, has managed to counter the saffron party’s development plank and dent Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal through its vitriolic attack on economic issues and Rafale fighter jet deal.
Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao had dissolved the 119-member House last month and called for early Assembly elections. The term of the Assembly was till June next year but he dissolved the House to avoid a possible clubbing of Assembly polls with Lok Sabha elections in April- May 2019.
While Chhattisgarh will go to polls in two phases on November 12 and 20, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram Assembly elections will be held on November 28. Polling in Rajasthan and Telangana will take place on December 7.
In the first phase of Chhattisgarh elections, voting will be held in 18 Assembly constituencies. In the second phase, polling will take place in 72 constituencies.
The three BJP-ruled states send 65 lawmakers to Parliament. In 2014, the BJP lost just three of these, sweeping all 25 in Rajasthan, 10 out of 11 in Chhattisgarh and 27 out of 29 in Madhya Pradesh.
The announcement of Assembly poll dates by the EC was mired in controversy as the Congress alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi put pressure on the poll panel to delay its press conference to announce the timeline as he was scheduled to address a rally in Rajasthan’s Ajmer around noon, a claim rubbished by Mr Rawat.
The ECI was set to hold its press conference at 12.30 pm but rescheduled it to 3 pm, leaving the Congress suspicious about the cause of delay.
Mr Rawat said, “Politicians are political creatures and they have to see politics in everything. We have no comments.”
The CEC listed three reasons for the delay in his media briefing — last-minute assessment of timeline for publication of Telangana electoral rolls, a high court direction that Telangana electoral rolls be shown to it before final publication and request from a state to delay bypolls due to possibility of bad weather.
However, the Congress was not convinced by the CEC’s explanation.
Party’s communications chief Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “Both the BJP and the EC should remember that such tactics won’t bear any results and the people of Rajasthan and India won’t give in to any sort of allurement as they have made up their mind against the anti-people BJP government.”
He alleged that the EC had similarly favoured the BJP while announcing poll dates for Gujarat last year.