India's Assembly Elections: The "Semi-Finals" for 2019

The 2018 Assembly elections are currently taking place in India, and will determine which political party will hold power in each individual state. The first five states to take part in the voting include Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana, and Mizoram. The two primary competitors in this election include the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP); however, there are numerous individual state parties such as the Telangana Rashtra Samithi in Telangana and the Mizo National Front in Mizoram that have the potential to win majority seats.

The 2018 Assembly elections in India will have a significant impact on the country, as they are considered the “semi- finals” to the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The party that wins the majority seats in the individual Assembly elections has the power to further the legislation they choose and push their party agenda in that state. In Rajasthan specifically, Congress has promised a “gochar bhumi” (grazing land) development board and a Vedic culture and education board to sway voters’ opinions on which party would better serve their communities.

In Telangana, the current Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) party has made headlines due to his insistence that he will win over 100 out of 119 seats in this upcoming election. Now that the polls open on December 7th and there are shifting tides regarding his re-election, Rao has been appealing to the masses. He stated in a rally, “It is an election for our dignity and maintaining our identity.”

Based on the specific political climates in each state, there are predicted outcomes for this election. In Madhya Pradesh, many believe that Congress will make a comeback after facing a huge defeat in 2013. Congress had won only 58 out of the 230 Assembly seats in this state, with BJP holding the power for the past fifteen years. In Chhattisgarh, Congress is also expected to win majority seats, although BJP had been the victor in this state during the last election. The same outcome is expected in Rajasthan, with Congress expected to hold the power after the election results are counted.

 The expected results in Telangana and Mizoram show less certainty of a Congress victory, with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) currently in power in the former. The TRS won their first election in 2014 after becoming a separate state from Andhra Pradesh, although Congress was the party that backed the state’s formation. While it was previously expected that the TRS would win this election again, there was a recent C- voter survey that showed Congress winning majority seats. In Mizoram as well, there is not a clear predicted victor of the election. Congress is currently holding the power in the state, but the Mizo National Front is a prominent competitor during this election.

While citizens in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Mizoram have already voted, the elections for Rajasthan and Telangana are taking place on December 7th. The campaigning efforts by Congress, BJP and the TRS have intensified over the past few days, hoping to sway voters during the final stretch. Congress President Rahul Gandhi was in Telangana on Monday December 3rd, to advocate for his party. He stated that the TRS and BJP have a “secret partnership”, and later tweeted, “Great people of Telangana, Modi, KCR & Owaisi are one. They speak in twisted tongues. Do not be fooled by them!” BJP President Amit Shah recently accused TRS and Congress of “minority appeasement” to get more votes. Statements such as these portray the animosity present between the parties, and the lengths they will go to undermine each other’s credibility.