Assembly elections 2017: Countdown begins for 5 states

 

After over a month of voting, counting of votes in Assembly polls in five states – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur – will begin at 8 am today and early trends are expected to start coming in at 10 am.

Congress is claiming it will wrest power in Punjab and retain its hold in Uttarakhand and Manipur. The election is also important for the nascent Aam Aadmi Party, which is hoping for success in its maiden outing in Assembly elections outside Delhi and has put up a spirited fight in Punjab and Goa.

Exit polls have projected a hung assembly in Uttar Pradesh and Goa, with BJP likely to lead the table. They forecast a close fight in Punjab between the Congress, which is seeking to return to power after a hiatus of 10 years, and Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP. The Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine could be in for a drubbing in the state. Exit polls have predicted victory for BJP in Uttarakhand.

A good show by the BJP, especially in Uttar Pradesh, will be seen as a reaffirmation of Modi’s standing among the masses and popular endorsement of his agenda, especially demonetisation.

A victory will also boost BJP president Amit Shah’s authority as capturing power in Uttar Pradesh has been a dream project for the party after it was reduced to the margins of the state politics that it ruled for much of the 1990s.

Shah has been seen as the architect of the party’s outreach to various social groups, mostly OBCs and sections of Dalits, and some experts believed that it might have antagonised its core support base and also old loyalists, who were passed over by him in distribution of tickets.

A BJP win in the state polls will also boost its strength in the Rajya Sabha where the Congress-led opposition has been able to block the government’s legislative agenda due to its numerical superiority.

Despite grim exit poll projections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Goa, the Congress put up a brave face today saying it will win all five states.

The Congress also sought to insulate party vice president from any negative fallout saying poll results are never a referendum on any single individual.

Uttar Pradesh

The most riveting contest is in Uttar Pradesh, which is seen as a gamechanger and a virtual referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity and his reforms agenda.

The Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance in UP is hoping to stop the BJP juggernaut, which had earlier stumbled in Bihar and Delhi, and lead the way for opposition unity in the run up to the 2019 general election.

In 2012, the Samajwadi Party swept to power defeating incumbent chief minister Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party which had got an absolute majority in the previous elections.

SP had won 224 seats of the 401 it contested, garnering a vote share of 29.15 per cent with an upswing of 3.72 per cent over the last elections.

The BSP had got 80 seats with a 25.91 per cent vote share. The BJP managed 47 seats with 15 per cent vote share, while the Congress got 28 seats with 11.63 per cent vote share.

In the 2014 general elections, however, the BJP captured Uttar Pradesh, winning 71 of the 80 parliamentary seats. It got a vote share of 42.30 per cent. The SP managed only 5 seats with a vote share of 22.2 per cent, the Congress and Apna Dal got 2 seats each while Mayawati was left high and dry.

Punjab

Congress is claiming it will wrest power in Punjab. All the exit polls have predicted a wipeout for the ruling Akali Dal-BJP alliance and contest is seen between the Congress and the Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party.

Votes will be counted at 54 centres in 27 locations set up for election to 117-member Punjab Assembly.

The Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine came to power in Punjab in 2012 for the second term, winning 68 of the 117 seats. The total vote share of the combine was around 42 per cent.

The Congress won 46 seats with a vote share of nearly 40 per cent, while Independents got 3.

In general election, the Aam Aadmi Party won 4, the SAD-BJP alliance 4 and Congress’ UPA 3 – down from 8 in 2009.

But incumbency hangs heavy on the SAD-BJP alliance this time in the face of a resurgent Congress and dark horse AAP.

Goa

In Goa, votes will be counted at two centres in North and South Goa to declare the winners in 40 seats.

In 2012, the BJP-Maharashtrawadi Gomantak had defeated incumbent Congress-led by Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, getting 24 of Goa’s 40 seats. The BJP won 21 seats. Between the two, they lapped up a vote share of 41 per cent.

In 2014, the BJP picked up both Lok Sabha seats in Goa – taking one away from the Congress.

Uttarakhand

A total of 637 candidates including 56 are contesting for 70 seats in the Uttarakhand Assembly. 15 counting centres have been established in Uttarakhand where the Assembly strength is 70.

In 2012, the BJP tried to cash in on former chief minister BC Khanduri’s clean image but bagged only 31 of the 70 seats putting Congress in the driver’s seat. The Grand Old Party had emerged as the single largest party with 32 seats and 33.79% vote share, but the BJP lost with a very small margin and got 33.13% vote share.

The BSP could only win in three seats of the 70 it contested, with 12.19 vote share.

In the 2014 general elections, BJP cast its spell on Uttarakhand and won all five seats form the state with 55.30% vote share.

Manipur

In Manipur, counting of votes will be held for 60 seats. Congress’ Okram Ibobi Singh has ruled in Manipur for 15 years. One of the major challenges for Congress this year, however, would be Irom Sharmila’s People’s Resurgence Justice Alliance.

Congress emerged as the lone giant in 2012 Manipur Assembly polls and achieved a hat trick win by securing 42 of the 60 seats in the state. It was sweet victory for Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh as the party got 42.42 vote share.

All India Trinamool Congress came second with 7 seats and 17% vote share. BJP could not make a mark in the state and did not win a single seat.

In the 2014 general elections too, Congress reigned supreme and won both the seats in Manipur.

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