What do the ongoing assembly elections in five states offer to the Indian electorate? We may like or dislike politics, but we always await the outcome of elections for many reasons. These elections can be seen as a straw poll for the mighty Lok Sabha elections in 2024. These elections can defy or give credence to the anti-incumbency argument. These elections will show whether leaders' popularity takes precedence over issues that concern the people.
Our reporters travelled to the five states to gauge the mood of the people. In Madhya Pradesh, it could be a neck-to-neck fight between the BJP—Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is the longest-serving CM of the state—and the Congress. Here, even a one per cent swing in the vote share can decide the winner and the loser. That’s why Congress’ Kamal Nath’s much-touted popularity will be tested. In Naxal-infested Bastar, tribals who adopted Christianity face the threat of violence, and there is a concerted effort by right-wing-led organisations to bring tribals into the ‘Hindu fold’.
In Rajasthan, political parties are trying to garner the support of the crucial Adivasi vote bank—experts believe that there have been consistent efforts to divide the community on religious lines. There has been a gradual rise of identity politics and there is also a demand for a tribal state, ‘Bhil Pradesh’ by tribal leaders. But tribal people are more concerned whether their basic needs, such as water and land rights, will be addressed.
In Chhattisgarh, it is going to be a dead heat race between the ruling Congress and the BJP. In this state, too, political parties are trying to win the support of the Adivasis. New outfits campaigning for tribal interests have emerged. But here too the Adivasis have realised that the fight is between roti kapda makan and jal jangal jameen.
Caste politics is playing a major role in Telangana, where Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has introduced a slew of a number of welfare schemes for marginalised communities. But there communities have not been able to tap into the benefits of these welfare measures. We will only know who has the electorate's pulse on December 3, the counting day.
Our other focus on this issue is the unending war in Gaza, where Israel has killed more than 11,078 Palestinians, many of them children, women and the elderly. Despite losing their families, friends and homes, Palestinians have not lost hope. They say they will fight for their dignity and freedom till the end. But the Israeli military is hell-bent on exterminating Hamas and all the innocent civilians who come in their way. When will there be a ceasefire?
(This appeared in the print as 'Too Close To Call')