The Fall Collection of Indian politics — which will be laid out in the form of the election results of the five states that go for polling in November and December this year — is, in all probability, going to be a trend-setter. It will determine to a large extent whether India will remained robed in the white of the Congress or will go for the flame colours of the Bharatiya Janata Party after next year’s national elections. Given this portentous quality of the forthcoming assembly polls, to be held in Rajasthan, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram, it is not surprising that political leaders went into a tizzy as soon as the Election Commission made the announcement last Friday. The BJP, riding high on the Narendra Modi wave, promptly proclaimed that good governance will be its agenda in the five poll-bound states. In Delhi, the party launched a website to provide information on its contesting candidates. As the chief Opposition party, the BJP is obviously harping on areas in which the performance of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government has been found wanting. And if the growing disgruntlement of the middle-class with the rising inflation on the one hand and the money-laundering ministers on the other is anything to go by, then the anti-incumbency factor might just play into the BJP’s hands.
The battle is going to be a tough one — there is a possibility that the BJP will wrest Rajasthan from the Congress while retaining its hold on Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. If it wins again in Madhya Pradesh, then the ruling chief minister of the state, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, will emerge as a BJP leader fit to contend with Mr Modi on the national stage. The Delhi results will be decisive since they will indicate the political preferences of the urban elite. With the ghastly incident of the medical student’s rape behind her, will Sheila Dikshit be able to get herself re-elected? After the assembly polls, the Congresswill also get to know if its dream scheme involving the food security law has cut any ice with the rural masses. The imminent turf war gets an interesting dimension from the fact that voting machines with “none of the above” button will be used for the first time in this year’s assembly polls. Will people exercise their option not to choose and, for once, shift their burden of despair on the political leaders who have failed them?