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Business News/ News / India/  Elections in five states to be held next month
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Elections in five states to be held next month

Mizoram will vote on 7 November. Elections in Chhattisgarh will be held in two phases on 7 and 17 November . Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana will go to the polls on 17, 23 and 30 November, respectively.

The votes will be counted on 3 December. (Mint)Premium
The votes will be counted on 3 December. (Mint)

NEW DELHI : Over 161 million people in five states across India will vote in assembly elections next month, the Election Commission of India announced on Monday, pressing the trigger on the home stretch of the 2023 poll season leading up to the general elections next summer.

Mizoram, the smallest poll-bound state with 40 seats, will vote on 7 November. Elections in Chhattisgarh, which has a 90-member assembly, will be held in two phases on 7 and 17 November . Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana will go to the polls on 17, 23 and 30 November, respectively.

The votes will be counted on 3 December.

Chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar said the polls in these states hold a unique significance because they will act as the final assembly elections before the general elections in 2024.

The five state elections are widely seen as a virtual semi-final for the Lok Sabha polls due by May next year and a sandbox for shaping electoral narratives, coalition arrangements and leadership decisions. Three of the five states—Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh—will also feature near-bipolar contests between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress, offering an opportunity to test the strengths of the two national parties that will go head to head in nearly a third of all Lok Sabha seats.

To be sure, the results of these polls are not necessarily mirrored in the general elections. In 2018, for instance, Congress won in this poll cycle across the heartland states—Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh—but BJP swept 62 of the 65 Lok Sabha seats six months later.

BJP national president J.P. Nadda claimed his party will form the government in all five states. Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said the elections would be the swansong for BJP from these states.

“With the announcement of elections in five states, the farewell of BJP and its allies has also been announced," Kharge said in a social-media post.

The polls, however, are the first major electoral exercise since 26 parties came together to form the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) earlier this year to take on BJP and will be a significant challenge for the opposition bloc to perfect its messaging, coordination and leadership. It also comes weeks after Bihar released its landmark caste survey that showed backward communities make up nearly two-thirds of the state, setting into motion an electoral narrative with the potential to upend heartland politics and propel caste into the core of the electoral discourse in the 2024 polls.

The Opposition has made a nationwide caste census a core demand, hoping that caste contradictions can cleave BJP’s rainbow Hindu coalition among the marginalized castes, but the state polls will be the first grassroots test to see if the narrative has any genuine traction. This will be especially important in Rajasthan, which announced its own caste survey last week.

Sanjay Kumar, director at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), said Congress may focus on caste in its campaigns. “However, I doubt it will be a major factor," he said.

These are also the first elections since the G20 summit and will show to what extent the government’s efforts at blunting anger about inflation have worked on the ground.

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Published: 09 Oct 2023, 11:43 PM IST
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