– Mohd Naushad Khan
The upcoming assembly elections in November are likely to be different in some ways as compared to earlier assembly elections. Earlier, the voting behavior of the people used to be different for assembly and general elections. Issues also happen to be different so as to suit people’s preferences. One may vote for one party in Assembly elections but he may vote for another party in Lok Sabha in the same state or even the same constituency.
But this time, when the gap between Assembly and Lok Sabha elections is very thin and it is expected that people while voting for assembly elections may vote as usual but with the reminder of Lok Sabha elections in their subconscious mind. Therefore, it can be said to be the semifinal before 2024 polls.
Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar, with his masterstroke caste census, has been able to reposition himself in the national politics. The issue of caste census is most likely to dominate the political narrative during assembly elections and Lok Sabha elections as well. However, the political posturing of Congress will depend on its performance in the upcoming assembly elections.
Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Mizoram are the states that will go to polls in November. Muslims make up around 8 to 9 percent of the population of Rajasthan; their presence in Madhya Pradesh is almost identical, while Chhattisgarh has even less Muslims. Therefore, it is believed that there may not be much competition for Muslim votes in the upcoming assembly elections. However, there are a considerable number of Muslim voters in Telangana. But there won’t be any talk exclusively about Muslim voters in Mizoram.
Political experts are of the opinion that when there is a perception of good fight between BJP and other opposition parties, Muslims may vote aggressively for the party that appears to give tough fight to the BJP and therefore Muslim votes will be significant in the 2024 polls as compared to 2019 and 2014 Lok Sabha polls because the opposition party had lost the perception battle much earlier. The big question: How the outcome of assembly elections going to impact the 20124 polls?
On the impact of assembly elections, Afroz Alam, professor and head of the Political Science Department MANNU, Hyderabad, while talking to Radiance, said, “I think the electoral outcome in five states will significantly impact the narratives in the subsequent Lok Sabha elections in 2024. First, the regional issues and aspirations will find their way in national discourse. Second, the performance of the winning parties in these states will become a reference point for their potential performance at the national level. It will also help in carving out perception and wider acceptability in favour of winning parties. Third, the politics of targeted policies, style of poll guarantees and specific schemes will scale up nationally. Fourth, the momentum of social justice and caste-based engineering will be dominantly pitched against the traditional model of Hindutva and nationalist fervor.”
“Whatever may the outcome in these five state assembly elections, mainstream parties will certainly get a signal about the ground realities, helping them recalibrate their strategies and narratives for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. At the same time, the discourse set during these elections will most likely influence voters’ perceptions and policy priorities,” said Alam.
KC Tyagi, chief spokesperson and advisor of JD(U) said, “Pattern of Lok Sabha and assembly election is different. When Bhupinder Singh Hooda was the chief minister and there was Congress government in Haryana then also all Lok Sabha seats was with the BJP. Similarly, when Ashok Gehlot was the chief minister of Rajasthan at that time also all Lok Sabha seats were with the BJP. In Madhya Pradesh, except one all seats were with the BJP. In Chhattisgarh except two seats all seats were with the BJP. But in non-Congress, non-BJP states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Bihar, Orrisa and West Bengal or Kerala, in these states we pose some challenge to the BJP. Now the Congress party has regained some lost ground and adopting progressive policies. There is possibility that the outcome of assembly elections may impact Lok Sabha polls and we will be happy about it.”
Praveen Rai who is a Political Analyst at the CSDS, Delhi, while sharing his perspective on the impact, said, “The polls in five states are the most crucial in the five-year Indian electoral cycle due to three reasons:
“One, it is considered a semi-final match between the BJP and the Congress as they exclusively cross swords with each other in three Hindi heartland states and the winner emerges as the front runner in the next national elections.
“Two, it serves as a platform for political party alliances, the N.D.A and I.N.D.I.A to check their index of unity, poll arithmetic and tenacity in accumulating winning votes and seats at ground zero.
“Three, it provides an opportunity to the contesting allies to test market political and ideological issues that resonate with the electorate and frame national campaign agenda based on their feedback for the mother of all elections. Since provincial elections are mainly localized party competitions, they have limited influence in shaping the political discourse and setting the agenda of national hustings. The reasons for diminishing impact of state verdicts on national electoral politics are varied, but it could be primarily attributed to General elections turning into presidential style contests.”
Syed Faisal Ali, who is the national general secretary of RJD, member of its parliamentary board, shared his perspective, saying, Assembly elections just before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls is said to be the tone and tenor of 2024 polls in many ways. Generally, it is said that assembly elections are semifinal just before final 2024 elections. The BJP has lost both Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh elections. In the last nine years, we have seen that the BJP, may be alone or with its alliance, dominated the political chessboard and was able to paint the entire India with saffron colour by winning many states. But now BJP is shrinking.
“Today they are in 11 states but except in two, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, the party has somehow managed to form government there. Presently the graph of the BJP is downward and not upward. The BJP lost Karnataka and Himachal despite the fact that Prime Minster Narendra Modi had campaigned here very aggressively and hate slur was also used. But defeat here strengthens beliefs that hate and emotive issues have its own limitations.
“The impressions that we are getting from the ground is that BJP may lose all five states going to polls soon. It is most likely that Congress may win Telangana. If it happens then Congress will bounce back as the principal opposition party with its leader whoever Rahul Gandhi or Mallikarjun Kharge will have clear stake for the prime ministerial post. In such scenario, the Congress will emerge as the alternative to the BJP and its leadership claim will be stronger than leaders of other political parties among I.ND.I.A alliance formation. If the performance of the Congress is better in these five states then strong voice will emerge from within Congress to make Rahul Gandhi party president once again. Also, better performance will give more bargaining power to the Congress,” said RJD leader.