Dr. Sandeep Shastri, Vice-Chancellor, Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal
Dr. G Gopa Kumar, former Vice-Chancellor, Central University of Kerala
Dr Reetika Syal, Senior Officer, Research, Centre for Public Policy Research ( CPPR)
The outcome of the 2022 assembly polls to the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur will be instrumental in building up the momentum for the 2024 national elections. However, a mirror effect of it can not be expected in the national elections.
Can the Arvind Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party emerge as a dark horse in these polls, or will the grand old party of India, the Congress, be able to generate momentum in the run-up to the 2024 national elections will be a key aspect to watch.
The speakers pointed out that what matters more in these elections is the popular perception than the reality on the ground.
The politics of defection in both Goa and Manipur has become a point of discussion in these polls. These can be attributed to the small size of their legislatures and fragile majorities. The number of legislators required to escape the anti-defection law is also low, facilitating these easy floor crossings.
The states of Goa and Manipur had a bipolar contest for decades between the Indian National Congress and a state political party; however, with the emergence of BJP in these states, the multi-party electoral space also contributed to this instability.
Identity politics has lost some charm leading to a decrease in its significance. The outcome of elections is a result of a variety of socio-economic and cultural variables. Though the past decades have witnessed the polarising nature of identity politics after its emergence, it has lost that ability to do the same now.
Ethnic and cultural coalitions play a vital role in the outcome of Manipur and Goa Polls. The Naga and Kuki tribes play a significant role in Manipur whereas, the Christian minority play a decisive role in the Goa elections.
India has not developed into a state where Women have emerged as a strong vote bank; however, a number of factors do play a role in their voting preferences, such as price rise, social security, education, marriage etc. Women as a consolidated vote bank are yet to emerge in India. However, the issues pertaining to them might lead to the women emerging as a pressure group in Indian politics in the coming times.
The 2021 assembly polls clearly conveyed to all the political parties across the spectrum the importance of a credible and reliable leader at the state level. This is clearly one of the reasons for the projection of state leadership faces in these elections.
The resignation of certain backward class leaders from the BJP was a setback to the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. They made significant inroads into the non-Yadav OBC votes in the previous elections, and these votes are critical to both BJP and the SP-RLD alliance to perform well in these elections.
The support BJP can generate out of the Ayodhya issue has already plateaued, and this is clearly visible with their push on the Mathura issue.
The projection of Charanjit Singh Channi as the Punjab Chief minister face of the Congress has brought the Dalit votes into the limelight. The Jat Sikh community, which was the dominant force in Punjab politics for decades, might feel alienated due to this move and can cause repercussions to the electoral prospects of Congress. In addition to that, the initial backing of farm laws by the SAD has made a dent in their vote bank.
In the state of Uttar Pradesh, the ruling BJP is projecting the faces of both the CM Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The projection of the two faces goes in harmony rather than in conflict. The BJP possesses strong central leadership, emerging strong state-level leaders and the strong backing of the RSS.
In contrast, the Indian National Congress is battling a leadership crisis at the national level. The Nehru- Gandhi dynasty has failed to get votes for the party to lead them to victory. The key to the survival of the grand old party will be the presence of mass-based state leaders. The failure to acknowledge collective responsibility has cost the party dearly. However, the likelihood of witnessing a bigger change in their leadership is minimal.
A victory in Punjab would be a booster for the national ambitions of the Aam Aadmi Party. They have projected the CM faces in the states of Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand and are trying to encash on the goodwill of the Delhi model of governance. Their election manifesto entails many factors directly influencing the people. The prime focus of AAP is on the Governance perspective rather than identity politics. They are trying to build a discourse and are expanding slowly.
The event report is prepared by Arun Regi Chacko, Research Intern, CPPR