Maharashtra and Haryana will vote on Monday to choose a new government with the ruling BJP upbeat about their prospects amid a depleted Opposition while voters in 51 Assembly seats and two Lok Sabha constituencies spread across 18 states will elect their lawmakers in bypolls.
The Assembly elections to Maharashtra and Haryana will be the first edition of major polls after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when Narendra Modi-led BJP retained power at the centre.
Along with this, bypolls to 51 Assembly seats will also be held in 18 states where seats became vacant after MLAs resigned mostly due to resignation after winning the Lok Sabha polls. Bypolls will also be held in Satara Lok Sabha seat (Maharashtra) where the NCP MP resigned and joined BJP and Samastipur (Bihar) where LJP MP Ramchandra Paswan died.
BJP and its allies hold around 30 of these assembly seats which are going to bypolls while Congress had won 12 and the rest with regional parties.
The election campaigning saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister and BJP chief Amit Shah raising the pitch on scrapping of Article 370. In Maharashtra, they raked up the issue of Veer Savarkar and the BJP even proposed Bharat Ratna for the controversial Hindutva leader, who was accused in the Mahatma Gandhi assassination.
Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP and its ally Shiv Sena appear confident that it will retain power while Congress-NCP combine is looking at crossing the three-figure mark, according to opinion polls. In the 2014 polls, all these parties had contested separately but this time better sense prevailed with BJP and Shiv Sena brushing aside their differences while Congress and NCP too did the same.
In 2014 Assembly polls, BJP had won 122 out of 288 seats while Shiv Sena bagged 63 following which they joined hands to form the government. Congress and NCP had won 42 and 41 seats respectively but in the run up to the Assembly polls this time, several MLAs, including Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, joined BJP.
The BJP is also confident of retaining Haryana where the Opposition Congress is in disarray. Adding more woes to the Opposition camp, the split in INLD also have made the path easier for BJP.
When it comes to bypolls, Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of 11 seats, which will test the popularity of Yogi Adityanath government. Eight of these seats are held by BJP while one is held by its ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) and the rest two with Samajwadi Party.
Five seats are going to bypolls in Bihar, where Assembly election is due next year, with JD(U) holding four and Congress one. The results would be seen as a vote on the performance of Nitish Kumar-led JD(U)-BJP coalition government.
In Gujarat where bypolls are held in six seats, the BJP has fielded former Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor. Two seats in Rajasthan are also going to bypolls and Congress, which is in power in the state, hope to wrest these seats from BJP and its ally RLP.
Congress hold three seats which are going to polls in Kerala while its ally Muslim League has one and the fifth one with CPI(M). The Left government in Kerala hopes to wrest a couple of seats from the Congress-led coalition while BJP appears to be on the backfoot in at least two seats where it has considerable strength.
Besides these states, there are bypolls in Assam (4), Punjab (4), Sikkim (3), Himachal Pradesh (2), Tamil Nadu (2), and one seat each in Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Puducherry, Meghalaya and Telangana.
States going to polls:
Maharashtra: 288 seats
Haryana: 90 seats
Uttar Pradesh – 11 seats
Gujarat – 6 seats
Bihar – 5 seats
Kerala – 5 seats
Punjab – 4 seats
Assam – 4 seats
Sikkim – 3 seats
Himachal Pradesh – 2 seats
Tamil Nadu – 2 seats
Rajasthan – 2 seats
Arunachal Pradesh – 1 seat
Madhya Pradesh – 1 seat
Odisha – 1 seat
Chhattisgarh – 1 seat
Puducherry – 1 seat
Meghalaya – 1 seat
Telangana – 1 seat