Poll position

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Poll position

Tuesday, 07 November 2023 | Pioneer

Poll position

The first phase of last Assembly elections before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls begins today

The 2023 men's cricket World Cup semifinals may still be a few days away but the much more eagerly awaited and critical-for-the-nation's-future electoral semifinal before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections' grand finale gets under way today. Of the five State Assemblies going to the hustings, voters in Mizoram's all 40 constituencies and those in the first phase in Chhattisgarh (20 of the 90 seats) will exercise their franchise. Three of the Assemblies where elections are being held --- Mizoram, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan --- are major States in the Hindi heartland which can make a lot of difference in the Lok Sabha elections. The State polls have a direct bearing on general elections, especially if the gap between them is less than six months. Most voters, according to psychologists and psephologists, choose the same party when State and general elections are narrowly spaced. However, which way the elections would turn is anybody’s guess as it is a crucial round, a precursor to the 2024 general elections. In Chhattisgarh, Bhupesh Baghel of the Congress defends his turf. Besides a host of usual poll-time freebies, he announced that a caste survey will be conducted if the party is voted to power. The BJP's manifesto for the State, released by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, also includes several promises and, interestingly, both manifestos look like carbon copies of each other. At the moment, Baghel is embroiled in myriad controversies and he will also have to deal with 'anti incumbency,' skewing his chances. The Chhattisgarh elections are being held in two phases — on November 7 and 17 — and the counting of votes will be undertaken on December 3 along with the other four Assemblies going to polls in this round.

Mizoram is the only State from the Northeast going to polls this winter. Voter sentiment and other things on the ground are a bit fluid here after the ethnic strife and violence in Manipur. There is no Mizo National Front-BJP pre-poll alliance this time around. While the ruling MNF is a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), it has chosen not to enter into a pre-poll alliance with the BJP in the State. Despite having just one legislator in the outgoing Mizoram Assembly, the BJP wants to form the next Government in the State. The BJP has made it abundantly clear that in case the State returns a fractured verdict, it is open to aligning with either the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), already a constituent of the NDA, or the main Opposition party, the Zoram People's Movement (ZPM), to form the next State Government. But who is the local people’s choice to govern them will be revealed on December 3 when the ballot boxes are opened and the votes counted. Till then, we can only pray that the elections are without any hiccups, fair and violence-free, especially since the left-wing infested Bastar in Chhattisgarh is also poised to vote in the first phase. Go on and get that finger inked, dear voter!

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