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Preparations for elections are going on while Indo-Pak tension continues

Saturday, March 09, 2019
By Prakash Bal Joshi

Tension continues between India and Pakistan as there is no let up in terror activity and across border firing and blasts continue unabated. However, with the Election Commission declaring that general elections for the Lok Sabha will be held as per the schedule, major political parties are leaving no stone unturned to ensure advantage during the most heatedly fought elections. The announcement of elections will take place anytime, in a day or two. All preparations and mock drills are over. It is just a matter of time before the code of conduct comes into effect and governments state as well as the central is prohibited for making any announcement or launching of a new scheme to woo voters in favour of ruling party and its front. The authorities too are rushing to make decisions, while ministers are busy launching new projects before the code of conduct comes into force.

There is also talk of whether the Bharatiya Janata Party will continue its agenda of Ram Temple or will shift to aggressive nationalism with the background of Air Force attack on Pakistan territory following Pulwama terrorist attack on the forces and loss of lives of our brave hearts. The Congress and opposition continue with their attack on the government on the issue of Rafale controversy by raking up fresh controversies and producing papers to implicate the authorities.

Simultaneous elections
The pet idea of one nation one election does not seem to be possible this time as there is now very little time to achieve consensus on such holding of simultaneous elections in view of political divide. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has already made it clear that there is not going to be dissolution of the state legislative assembly to hold simultaneous elections for the assembly as well as the Lok Sabha. There were lot of speculation in Maharashtra over the issue and finally, CM had to intervene to squash such rumours putting an end to any such possibility.

He could make such announcement after pacifying the poll ally Shiv Sena and reaching out an understanding over sharing of seats as well as power overcoming one major hurdle. The BJP which was initially thinking of going for simultaneous elections to take advantage of euphoria created for the Lok Sabha elections also have now taken a second look and decided to go in for separate elections.

The party also recalls that the last time they curtailed the tenure of the Maharashtra state legislative assembly during former Sena chief minister Narayan Rane was not successful. Normally, voters do not like such kind of curtailments as they think that since they have given five-year mandate to rule, no one should curtail it and insult their decision.

The Congress and the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party have already reached understanding over sharing of seats and almost finalised their candidates. They are now trying to win over smaller parties like RPI-led Prakash Ambedkar to avoid split in secular votes.

The Congress even after so much of efforts for Mahagathbandhan is finding it difficult to adjust local regional parties and their aspirations. In UP where it is very crucial, the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party led by Mayawati have reached an understanding leaving out the Congress to fight it on its own. The SP and BSP may avoid direct clash in Gandhi family’s constituencies like Amethi and Raibareli but that it not going to solve the problem.

Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from Uttar Pradesh’s Mainpuri, the constituency represented by him four times. With his open praise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament, there were doubts and speculation and he has fallen apart from the party led by his son. However, with this announcement it is clear that he is with his party and will take on the BJP and its front in UP. Like the Congress which has released its first list of candidates, the SP also released its first list of six candidates — three general and an equal number of reserved seats —  for the elections. The seats are Mainpuri, Badaun, Firozabad, Etawah (reserved), Robertsganj (reserved), and Bahraich (reserved) . The general seats will be contested by — Mulayam on Mainpuri ,  Dharmendra Yadav will re-contest his traditional Badaun seat, and Akshaya Yadav on his Firozabad seat.

Akshaya Yadav is the newest Yadav in electoral politics. He contested his first elections in 2014 on Firozabad Lok Sabha seat and won. He too is a cousin of SP national president Akhilesh Yadav. The son of the party national General Secretary, Ram Gopal Yadav, Mulayam brother Shivpal Yadav, the President of Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) too had been talking about fielding Mulayam on Mainpuri on his party’s ticket. However, Mulayam had expressed displeasure over “delay in seat declaration in Samajwadi Party and now all set to support Akhile.

Delhi duel
Mayawati has already selected her candidates and they will be launching their campaigns by taking on the BJP and its front and remaining soft on the Congress to avoid direct clash. No one knows what kind of  results will come out of the triangular contests while the BJP maintains that it will again repeat the performance of 2014.

In Delhi the situation is very fluid. There is daily development of  a flip-flop over alliance with the Congress as Delhi Chief Minister Kejariwal has been demanding more seats to take on the BJP. He claims that the Congress is not in a position to take on BJP in Delhi and only his Aam Adami Party can give a real fight.

Delhi unit of the Congress has ruled out any possibility of a tie up with the AAP if it continues to demand more seats.  Kejariwal says Rahul Gandhi should take a decision about the seat-sharing with it considering the national situation, instead of "batting from behind" Delhi Congress leadership.

The APP claims that the party took an ideological decision for alliance with the Congress, keeping in view the need to save the democracy and to strengthen the voice of Delhi people in the Lok Sabha, although several objections were raised within the party. "APP workers do not want alliance. Many leaders are personally against it. But, the decision for alliance was taken in favour of the national interest. Sheila Dikshit who leads the city unit of the Congress has declared that the unit is totally of the view that alliance with AAP will not work.

Following Dixit statement, AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal said there are "rumours" that the Congress has a "secret understanding” with the BJP and asserted that his party is ready to fight the "unholy alliance". He said that Delhi situation was a challenge for Rahul Gandhi who has to prove his leadership to lead the movement against the BJP by sorting out differences with the regional parties.  

Suspended AAP MLA and former minister in the Kejriwal government, Sandip Kumar is in touch with the  Delhi Congress office and called on Sheila Dikshit. APP feels that some of its leaders may be poached by these rival parties during the elections. These headaches over seat sharing and alliance forming will go on till the actual elections are declared. Once the battle lines are drawn, and then it will become clear that will be fighting with whom setting the tone for the battle royal for 2019 elections. Till then such hick ups will continue unabated.

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