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Even before demonetisation, 2016 had been expected to be a seminal year in Indian electoral politics. Now the stakes in the coming polls, including in Uttar Pradesh, are even higher. Here’s what we should watch out for:

TRENDS TO WATCH

Opposition unity

So far, opposition unity has been issue-based. Their conduct will influence the legislative agenda of the National Democratic Alliance.

Wooing Gen-X

How will India’s politicians woo Gen-X? With two out of three Indians under 35 years of age, the youth are a key constituency.

Political funding and electoral reforms

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi defending the need for electoral reforms to promote transparency in political funding, more developments could be expected in 2017.

New politics

Two years ago, the Aam Aadmi Party won the Delhi elections in style. Since then, it has stumbled. But will others emerge to fill the vacuum as the Congress retreats nationally?

The anti-corruption narrative

Through the amnesty scheme and demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has brought his anti-corruption drive to centre stage. He has promised more action in 2017.

PEOPLE TO WATCH

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: AP
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: AP

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister

Midway through his term, Modi could look at further harnessing his social capital to accelerate economic reforms and anti-corruption measures. It remains to be seen how he reshapes the Bharatiya Janata Party’s support base ahead of the crucial state elections next year.

Rahul Gandhi, Congress vice-president. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
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Rahul Gandhi, Congress vice-president. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Rahul Gandhi, Congress vice-president

As India’s oldest political party risks being relegated to an electoral also-ran, the big question is whether Rahul Gandhi will be the person leading its comeback; and, whether he will formally take over from his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Amit Shah, Bharatiya Janata Party national president. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
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Amit Shah, Bharatiya Janata Party national president. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Amit Shah, Bharatiya Janata Party national president

In a crucial election year, all eyes will be on whether Shah can lead the party to victory in Uttar Pradesh, and undo the humiliation that the BJP suffered in Bihar.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint
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West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief

Ever since demonetisation, the feisty leader has emerged as the face of the opposition. Some believe this is part of her plan to acquire a national footprint.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. Photo: HT
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Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. Photo: HT

itish Kumar, Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal (United) chief

Will he continue his “outspoken support" for demonetisation? More importantly, how will he deal with his difficult alliance partner, the Rashtriya Janata Dal.

EVENTS TO TRACK

Battleground Uttar Pradesh

With no visible end to the internal power struggle in the Samajwadi Party, will the party fight off a potential one-term anti-incumbency wave or will the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party repeat its Lok Sabha performance of 2014?

Presidential and vice-presidential elections

Will President Pranab Mukherjee get a second term? If not, who will be the next President?

Generational change in Tamil Nadu politics

With the death All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) chief J. Jayalalithaa and given the growing health concerns of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) patriarch M. Karunanidhi, politics in the state is ready for a makeover.

Will the Congress reverse its run in Punjab?

Two-term anti-incumbency and the popular appeal of Captain Amarinder Singh makes the Congress a front-runner in Punjab. Can it break the jinx?

Will BJP retain Goa?

As the incumbent, the pressure is on the BJP. Given Goa’s history of fractious politics, an upset cannot be ruled out.

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