Bright prospect

The elections to the state assemblies of Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh, announced by the Election Commission, would have created greater interest in a different political environment. They are to be held on October 13 and the results will be announced on October 22. The first assembly elections after the UPA government came to power at the Centre, being held in two important states, could have given an indication of the people’s response to the new government, especially because the Congress and the BJP will be contending for power in Maharashtra and Haryana. But the state of disarray in the BJP is likely to make it difficult for the party to put up a good fight against the Congress. In Haryana, Congress chief minister Bhupinder Singh Huda has confidently opted for early elections after the party’s good showing in the Lok Sabha elections. The alliance between the BJP and the Indian National Lok Dal was routed in May. The two parties parted ways last week, making it all the more easy for the Congress to come back to power. The BSP, and former chief minister Bhajan Lal’s Haryana Janhit Party, which have formed an alliance, are marginal players in the state.

In politically more important Maharashtra too the Congress will not be too worried. The split in the Shiv Sena votes, caused by Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, helped the alliance of the Congress and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party in the Lok Sabha elections. The MNS will continue to bleed the Shiv Sena in the assembly elections too. The Sena’s partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been weakened by the party’s post-poll turbulence. The Congress-NCP alliance is short on mutual trust and may be roiled by seat-sharing problems but its rival has bigger problems. However, it only had a narrow lead in the Lok Sabha election in terms of both seats and vote share and therefore a stiff contest cannot be ruled out.

It is not known why Jharkhand, which is under President’s rule for the last eight months, has been denied the chance to elect a new Assembly. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had told Parliament in its last session that elections in the state would be held by October. The Centre would be acting unfairly to the people of the state if it trie to promote the narrow interests of the Congress and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha by dilly-dallying on elections.

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