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BJP and allies now gear up for Lok Sabha byelections

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BJP and allies now gear up for Lok Sabha byelections

After the byelections for five Assembly seats from four States, all eyes are on the byelections for eight Lok Sabha seats in six States. Polling on these seats is scheduled in the upcoming months. The Election Commission of India could have conducted polling on these seats either along with the Gujarat elections or with the byelections for the Assembly seats, but that did not happen due to unknown reasons. Now, there is speculation that polling will be held next month.

Barring West Bengal’s Uluberia seat, almost all seats are a matter of prestige for the BJP and its alliance partners. The West Bengal seat had been vacated after the death of the TMC MP, Sultan Ahmed, and after the results of Sabang Assembly seat, nobody can doubt that the TMC would save the Uluberia seat. However, the seats vacated in Bihar, UP, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and J&K are crucial for the BJP.

The Araria seat in Bihar was vacated after the death of RJD MP Taslimuddin. Apparently, there is tension over the seat between the two alliance partners, the BJP and JDU. The BJP leaders are of the view that if a candidate is fielded from their party, there will be higher chances for polarisation. At the same time, the JDU has staked its claim on the seat. The son of late Taslimuddin is an MLA from the JDU. So, the RJD and JDU are keeping an eye on him. This has become a prestige issue for the BJP and JDU, which have grabbed power in Bihar again.

In the same manner, two seats from Rajasthan — Alwar and Ajmer — are important for both the Congress and BJP. Both belonged to the BJP, so the party is under pressure to save them. Two seats from UP, Gorakhpur and Phulpur, pose the greatest challenge for the BJP. The Gorakhpur seat belongs to CM Yogi Adityanath, and Phulpur belongs to Deputy CM KP Maurya. Both leaders have to save their seats, and this is also an opportunity for the Opposition to show its strength and unity.

Maharashtra’s recently vacated Bhandara–Gondia seat belonged to the BJP, but its MP Nana Patole opposed its own Government on the farmers’ issue and resigned. This seat, in fact, belonged to the NCP’s Praful Patel. So, this seat will be a litmus test for a probable alliance between the NCP and Congress, because Patole has given an indication that he might join the Congress. The seat will be be a big challenge for the BJP and its Government in Maharashtra, as will be the Anantnag seat from J&K.

BYELECTIONS IN KASHMIR

Byelections for seven Lok Sabha seats of five States will, in all likelihood, be held within six months from the date of vacancy, but the issue of the Anantnag seat is different. This seat has been lying vacant for the past year and polling has not been conducted due to security reasons. Elections were held for the Srinagar seat, but the polling percentage was low, and the NC’s Farooq Abdullah won there. Seeing the low voter turnout at Srinagar, polling at Anantnag was deferred. Some say CM Mehbooba Mufti wanted to field her brother from this seat but was afraid of defeat and that was the reason for the deferment of polls.

However, Mufti’s brother, Tasadduk Mufti, has now become an MLA and she will soon give him a big responsibility. So, there is least possibility that he will be fighting from Anantnag. During the nomination for the MLC elections, he had to work hard and that is why it is believed that the Government will give a go-ahead for the election.

A Congress leader said the Government can’t defer the election any more citing security reasons as the local body elections are also due in the State. The State Government has decided to hold the local body elections in February. And if these can be held, how is security a hindrance for the LS byelections? The results of Anantnag will give a clearer picture of future elections in the State.

PAWAR CHANGES TACK

When the NDA Government was formed at the Centre, the NCP chief Sharad Pawar kept a distance from the Congress. During the initial days of the NDA Government, Narendra Modi and Arun Jaitley used to be Pawar’s guests. The two leaders even went to Pawar’s constituency, Baramati, and praised him. During the LS election campaign, Modi had attacked Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar, but after becoming the PM, Modi said he sought Pawar’s advice on complicated issues.

Now, former PM Manmohan Singh has become Pawar’s guest of honour. Recently, a book launch was held at Aurangabad, the stronghold of Pawar, and Manmohan was the chief guest. In the function, Manmohan and Pawar heaped praise on one another. In fact, Pawar has had only good things to say about the Congress for some time now. He praised Rahul Gandhi on several occasions, and this is probably because the elections are nearing.

At the Aurangabad event, Manmohan said Pawar was the Agriculture Minister with the most authentic ideas, adding he was his partner in attempts made in the 90s to change the economic health of the country. This must be noted that Pawar was also a minister for some time in the Narasimha Rao Cabinet. Manmohan added that Pawar is among the few leaders who are concerned about the industrial development of India. At Aurangabad, both leaders raised the issue of farmers in Maharashtra. This has been the biggest political issue in the State for some time now, and the NCP is gearing up to make it an election issue too.

BIGGER ROLE FOR Kanimozhi

In Tamil Nadu, political equations within two major parties are changing rapidly. Big changes are expected in the AIADMK. TTV Dhinakaran, who was ousted from the AIADMK, has won the RK Nagar seat, and now there are speculations that leaders who were loyal to Jayalalithaa will join him, after leaving Panneerselvam and Palanisamy. This will definitely affect the equation of the party which is in power.

The dynamics might also change in the DMK. Kanimozhi, the MP daughter of Karunanidhi, and A Raja — who was once the Dalit face of the party — have been discharged from the 2G scam. It is being said that infighting within the party will increase as Stalin is considering big roles for these two. Supporters of Kanimozhi and Raja want roles for them in the organisation. Dayalu Ammal will also push for a bigger role for her daughter, Kanimozhi.

Kanimozhi got the Rajya Sabha seat under the pressure of Karunanidhi and Dayalu Ammal. If there is no pressure, Stalin will not give her any post. On the other hand, Stalin is also afraid of his elder brother, Alagiri. He is not involved in the party matters but Stalin still fears him. Experts of Tamil politics say that if Stalin keeps Kanimozhi aside, she might side with Alagiri — who has a good hold over the Madurai region — and have more weight in the family. This is certain that Kanimozhi will get some or the other responsibility, either big or small.

 
 
 
 
 

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