Elections will dominate the most part of 2018, beginning with Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya and Karnataka voting in the first half of the year, followed by BJP-ruled states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, and Mizoram. The year gone by saw the BJP, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, claiming victories in almost all assembly elections. The Congress, now under the stewardship of a new captain, Rahul Gandhi, also took some strides, particularly in Gujarat. However, the real test of Rahul’s calibre is this year’s assembly elections when he would seek to consolidate his party’s position as a formidable Opposition and form an alternative to the BJP.
At the same time, it will be the regional parties that will be keenly watched as they will play a key role in government formation in a number of states. Most importantly, the elections in these eight states will set the tone for the biggest electoral event — the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Here is a complete list of states and what all is at stake in 2018:
One of the hotly contested battles is likely to unfold in the Karnataka state assembly. The tenure of the Assembly ends in May 2018 and the state is expected to go to polls around April 2018. The official notification of the dates of polling for the 225-member Assembly will be released by the Election Commission of India in the coming months. At present, the Congress holds 123 seats in the Assembly while the BJP has 44. Former prime minister HD Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular) has 32 members. It won 40 seats but eight of its MLAs stand suspended.
Currently ruled by a BJP-led government under Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the state will vote on 230 seats to elect a new government. BJP had won 165 seats in the 2013 assembly election and Congress could manage just 57. Chouhan was elected the CM for the third term and will be looking to repeat the performance and retain the chair. The election in the state is likely to take place at the end of this year as the tenure of current government ends in January 2019.
The state governed by BJP under Vasundhara Raje will go to election around November this year as the tenure of the government comes to an end in January 2019. The state has 200 assembly seats and Congress will look to make a comeback after it was dethroned in 2013. BJP had won 163 seats in 2013 while Congress could barely manage 21 seats. The increasing cases of violence, lynchings and communal hatred is likely to make it tough for the BJP.
Raman Singh, who formed the government for the third consecutive time in 2013, will look to continue the winning streak for a fourth term. However, he faces a tough challenge from the Congress party in the state. During the 2013 election, BJP won the mandate by winning 50 seats out of the total strength of 90 in the assembly. Raman Singh faced a tough fight from the Congress, which bagged 39 seats in the state.
The state will be first in the country to vote, in February, as Nagaland Peoples Front (NPF) will campaign to retain power in the state. During the 2013 election, NPF had won 37 seats out of 60 to form the government. Both BJP and Congress has had a rough history in the state and will look to improve their tally. BJP could win just 2 seats in 2013 while Congress managed eight.
Among the north-eastern states that will vote in February is Meghalaya. Ruled by Congress government under Mukul Sangma, the state will vote on 60 assembly seats two months later. Meghalaya is likely to be a top priority for the BJP as it pushes for its presence in the north-east. While independents have a huge sway in the state, Congress won 29 seats in the assembly in 2013.
The 2013 assembly election in the state saw the Left Front retaining power in the state for a fifth consecutive term as CPI (M) won 49 seats out of 60. Governed by Manik Sarkar, the state government has been at a confrontation with the centre over the denial to broadcast of the CM’s independence day speech in 2017. Meanwhile, Congress will look to improve its performance in the state.
With the merger of Maraland Democratic Front(MDF) with the BJP is likely to bolster its chances in the state assembly elections scheduled for this year. Amid its push for a larger role in the north-east, the BJP under Amit Shah will vie to take down Congress from the throne. Congress had won mandate with 34 seats to form the government in 2013 in the state.