The third phase of the elections is set to be conducted on the 23rd of April, 2019. It is perhaps the most crucial phase of the elections for the BJP and could prove crucial as to whether it crosses the magic mark of 272 on its own or falls short.
All the 20 seats in Kerala and 26 in Gujarat will go to polls today. 14 each in Karnataka and Maharashtra, 5 each in Bihar and West Bengal, 10 in Uttar Pradesh, 7 in Chhattisgarh, 6 in Odisha, 4 in Assam, 2 in Goa, 1 each in Jammu and Kashmir, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu will be voting. Apart from these, the one seat in Tripura for which voting was postponed will also go to polls. Voting will be held in a total of 117 constituencies across 13 states and 2 Union Territories.
Heavyweights like Rahul Gandhi, Amit Shah, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Jaya Prada, Varun Gandhi and Shashi Tharoor will have their electoral fates decided today.
The BJP is expected to win at least 2 seats in Kerala this time around, Pathanamthitta and Thiruvananthapuram. The former is the constituency of Sabarimala, the issue that is proving to be the dominating factor in the state. K Surendran is the BJP’s candidate from the constituency and he is considered a hero in the Battle for Sabarimala. He is immensely popular among the electorate and has earned the goodwill and respect of the electorate through his contribution towards the entire movement which includes going to jail to protect the sanctity of the deity. Apart from the two, the BJP is also in contention in Palakkad and Thrissur although victory appears unlikely at this point.
The Congress, too, is expected to make massive gains in Kerala in light of the atrocities committed by the Left government against the devotees of Swami Ayyappa. Congress President Rahul Gandhi is expected to win from his constituency, Wayanad, as the demography appears to be overwhelmingly in his favour. The Congress is expected to be the primary benefactor of the pervasive anti-Left sentiments in Kerala.
The BJP must perform well in the 28 seats in Karnataka and Maharashtra if it is to cross the magic mark of 272. Things are looking good for the party in both these states and it is expected to win a lion’s share of the seats. The Sena-BJP juggernaut appears to be dominating the fray while the Congress-NCP alliance looks in disarray. In Karnataka as well, things are not going smoothly for the Congress-JD(S) alliance. Therefore, the BJP has expected a benefit from internal squabbles as well.
In Orissa, which is one of the states where the BJP is looking to make significant gains to compensate for whatever losses it might suffer in Uttar Pradesh due to the Mahagathbandhan or elsewhere, it is again expected to be a critical battle between the party and the BJP. Sambit Patra, the amicable multi-talented spokesperson, is the BJP’s candidate from Puri and is certainly a seat to watch out for. Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack, too, go to polls on Tuesday as well.
In the 10 seats of Uttar Pradesh, it is again difficult to predict the results and where things stand as of now. The highlight would be the contest between Jaya Prada and Azam Khan at Rampur which in context of the latter’s despicable comments on the former SP leader assumes new significance. From the two phases completed in the state thus far, the momentum appears to be on BJP’s favour if pollsters are to be believed. However, every polling day is a new day and voters will again decide the fate of the parties involved.
While looking at other states, one looks at caste equations and demography and momentum and other factors. But when it comes to West Bengal, the primary cause for concern is polling malpractice and violence. The concerns were the same for the first two phases and it’s unlikely to change for the third phase as well. The Election Commission has sanctioned the use of Central Forces for over 90% of the booths. It’s expected to ensure a better state of affairs but in Didi’s Bengal, even Election Officers go missing. So it remains to be seen how things turn out on Tuesday.
In the rest of the states, the BJP will look to repeat its performance from 2014. In Chhattisgarh, the BJP is expected to lose a few seats given the results of the Assembly Elections last year. However, nothing is written on stones as yet and things may go in BJP’s favour. In Gujarat, the BJP has made a clean sweep the last time around. While that appears unlikely, it is Narendra Modi’s home state, however, and at his home, anything is possible.