2023: A year of high-stakes political battles before 2024 game of throne

Election-bound states include Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram

New Delhi: As 2023 is knocking at the door, the next year is going to be politically crucial as several high-stakes political battles are set to take place that are likely to set the tone for 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

At least nine states, from the northeast to the west and south to the central part of the country, are due to witness assembly elections in 2023. The coming year also holds significance for the anti-BJP parties who have been vocal about forming a united opposition for some time now.

The election-bound states include Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram. Further, if all goes well, the government may also hold assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir next year. In that context, the election-bound 2023 can be considered as the semifinal ahead mega battle of 2024.

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Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are the two states where there is a Congress government. So it is probably not wrong to be said that there is a fight for survival for Congress which got a boost after winning the recently held Himachal polls.

In Rajasthan, Congress wrested power from the BJP in 2018 by winning 100 seats in the 200-member state Assembly. The BJP, which got a thumping majority by winning 163 seats in 2013, could manage to get only 73 seats in 2018.

The state will again see a direct fight between the BJP and Congress in 2023. Since 1990, the power in Rajasthan has been swinging between BJP and Congress.

However, the internal rift between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot may prove a headache for Congress.

In Chhattisgarh, Congress won a thumping majority by winning 68 seats in the 90-member assembly uprooting the 15-year rule of the BJP in the last election. The BJP got only 15 seats. In the recently held Bhanupratappur bypolls, the ruling Congress retained the seat.

Madhya Pradesh witnessed much political drama after the last Assembly elections in 2018 when Kamal Nath became the chief minister ousting the 15-year rule of the BJP. However, Shivraj Singh Chouhan returned to power after two years when 22 sitting Congress MLAs along with party heavyweight Jyotiraditya Scindia resigned from Congress to join the BJP.

Karnataka also turned out to be a political pandemonium, after no party got a majority in the 2018 assembly elections. After the hung assembly, BS Yeddyurappa was sworn in as the chief minister by the governor but resigned due to not being able to muster the majority. Later, the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) stitched an alliance to form a government with HD Kumaraswamy as the chief minister.

However, 14 months later, over a dozen MLAs of the ruling coalition resigned, resulting in the fall of the Kumaraswamy government.

In July 2019, BS Yediyurappa again returned as the chief minister. However, BJP replaced Yeddyurappa with Basavaraj Bommai in July last year. Karnataka holds great importance for the BJP as it is the only state in the south that is ruled by the party.

Since the formation of Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao-led Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has been in power. Now with national ambition, KCR has relaunched his party as Bharat Rashtra Samithi to take on the Modi government at the Centre. On the other side, BJP is trying hard to make inroads in Telangana.

TRS recently logged victory in the high-stakes Munugode bypolls.

Moving to Tripura, BJP swept the 2018 polls by winning 35 seats in the 60-member Assembly. However, the party replaced Biplab Deb with Manik Saha as the chief minister earlier this year as part of a strategy ahead of the polls. But, the next state elections are believed to be not a cakewalk for the BJP with the aggressive emergence of the Trinamool Congress. Abhishek Banerjee, TMC national general secretary and nephew of Mamata Banerjee made several visits to the Northeastern state to strengthen the party organisation.

Pertinent to mention, earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone and inaugurated various development projects worth over Rs 4,350 crore in Agartala. He also held a roadshow in the city.

In the 2018 Meghalaya state assembly polls, Congress emerged as the single largest party but failed to secure the majority form a government. BJP which won only two seats formed an alliance with the National People’s Party (NPP) to form the government.

But the fight will be more interesting this time since NPP leader and Chief Minister Conrad Sangma announced that his party would contest the 2023 polls alone.

In Nagaland, BJP joined hands with the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) before the 2018 elections and formed the government.

In Mizoram, Mizo National Front is in power led by Chief Minister Zoramthanga. MNF won 26 out of 40 seats in the 2018 assembly elections. Congress managed to get only five. For the first time, BJP also opened its account in the state. Notably, MNF is a member of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) and also an ally of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre.

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