ASSEMBLIES SET FOR POLLS

With a broad hint from Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an event in Assam, assembly election schedules for four states and one Union Territory are likely to be announced by the Election Commission in a fortnight’s time. The elections must be over by May, so that new governments in these provinces can take charge. The scenario in Puducherry remains fluid in view of the resignation of the Congress-DMK alliance government there this week, while the four states are raring to go for the polls.

In Assam, the stakes for the BJP are high. It will seek to ensure a continuation in power even as local issues might crop up and a weakened Congress party and regional entities will seek to turn the tide against the BJP and chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal. There is little doubt that the Trinamool Congress is retaining its hold on the masses in Bengal despite the exit of some senior-level leaders from the party. The BJP is still not in a strong position there while the Congress-Left alliance has little hope of capturing power. The ‘nephew’ factor and the latest coal scam plaguing the CM’s family might work against the Trinamool Congress, though.

The Left Democratic Front in Kerala is seen in a strong position and this view is reinforced by the two opinion surveys this week. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has worked hard on the welfare and developmental fronts. The E Palaniswami dispensation in Tamil Nadu is losing popular support. The DMK, led by Karunanidhi’s son MK Stalin, is seen to be in a commanding position, going by the support the DMK-Congress-Left alliance got in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The VK Sasikala factor might or might not reshape the political equations in the state after her release from jail a week ago.

The Congress took a hit in the exit of its government in Puducherry this week, as this, of late, was the party’s only fiefdom in the South. A compensation could come in the coming assembly polls in the UT by way of re-election for the Congress; and it might be able to share power in Tamil Nadu too.

The last word on Kerala is yet to be heard; the Congress is the main opposition there and could return to power based on the previous trends in the state – where no political formation could retain power in successive polls and the Opposition was voted into power. The BJP is too weak in Kerala as also Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. It hardly has any seat-strength in these state assemblies and has not been able to consolidate its strength in the southern states.

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