The Election season is about to start in 2018 and four states will head to the polls later this year. While Karnataka will witness the elections in the month of May, the other three states will be having them in the later part of the year. Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are the three Bharatiya Janata Party ruled states which are going to face elections in late 2018 and early 2019. The results of elections in these states have played a huge role in the Lok Sabha elections. They will continue to do so in the future as well and this is why the BJP is keen to hold on to their seats in the days to come. With a strong leadership at the helm in the state and easy identification of their leaders, it might to be easy for the BJP, but they do not look complacent. Congress however is facing a tussle within their factions in all the three states and this is surely not helping the Congress.
The Congress has not been in power in Chhattisgarh since the 2003 elections. Raman Singh, the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, has held his post since joining office in December 2003. He has changed the image of Chhattisgarh and increased the GDP growth rate to 7.2 percent, better than the national GDP growth of 6.9 percent. Chattisgarh recently attained the fourth rank below Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh in the CRISIL ratings issued on the basis of parameters of GDP growth, inflation and fiscal position for 2013-17. Chhattisgarh is going to be a witness to a tri-party contest in the elections to come. Ajit Jogi’s Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC) will be fighting in the elections which earlier used to be a tussle between Congress and the BJP. Ajit Jogi was the biggest face of the Congress till infighting forced him to resign and form his own party. The already dented voter base of Congress could further face a setback as there is an ongoing tussle for the CM post in the state Congress wing of Chattisgarh.
Madhya Pradesh has also been under BJP rule for the past 13 years under Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The BJP government has been in power since 2003 in the state. The voters of the state have time and again reposed their faith in the Chouhan government and there is no reason for them not to do so again. The anti-incumbency agenda is not a big issue in Madhya Pradesh and the Congress understands this. Former Chief Minister Digvijay Singh has lobbied to get Kamal Nath appointed as the head of the Congress party in the state. This comes at the cost of irking the sentiments of Jyotiraditya Scindia and his supporters from the state. The Congress is still to decide the CM face for the polls and it is unclear whether they would want to declare one before the elections.
Rajasthan is the only state where the BJP has been in power for less than 5 years. Ashok Gehlot, the ex-CM of Rajasthan, is still in the running for the Chief Minister’s candidature of Congress, while Sachin Pilot has been appointed the local chief for Rajasthan. Caste based politics has always played a decisive role in Rajasthan. The combinations needed to click with the Jat and Rajput majority population is a tricky one to say the least. And with Gehlot and Pilot being the top contenders for the face of Chief Minister in the state it will be a major problem. Gehlot is a known face in the masses and has been a two time Chief Minister previously, while Pilot enjoys the friendship of the Congress President Rahul Gandhi. Gehlot is an experienced politician while Pilot is more of an upstart, having won just once as an MP from Ajmer. While Pilot in the past has refrained from accepting Gehlot’s potential candidature as a Chief Minister, Gehlot has on numerous occasions dismissed Pilot’s claim more than once.
All these fights and lack of faith amongst leaders and workers will play a huge role in the upcoming elections in Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Congress leadership at the Centre will face tough times in keeping their leaders satisfied before the elections. It will be interesting to watch who will be given a chance for the top posts in the states and who manages to convince the public and the central leadership of the Congress. Congress could easily lose their track before the elections owing to the tussles at the state level and this would be bad news for the party before the 2019 Lok sabha elections.