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Polls in 5 states: Crucial test for national parties BJP, Congress and regional players SP, TMC, AAP

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Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 8

With as many as 690 seats up for grabs, the upcoming elections to the five states are an important test for the two defending national parties — the BJP and the Congress—and regional players like the Samajwadi Party, the Trinamool Congress and the AAP in terms of their national ambitions and plans against the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

While the BJP is defending existing governments in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa, in Punjab, it is trying to emerge on its own in a new avatar minus the Akali Dal in the backdrop of farmers’ protests against the now-repealed farm laws.

For the Congress, meanwhile, Punjab elections are important from the point of fundamental existence in the face of a tough challenge from the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP.

Notably, Congress’ 20 per cent seats in the Lok Sabha come from Punjab. Likewise, of the BJP’s total Lok Sabha seats, almost 20 per cent are from Uttar Pradesh.

Not just the Congress needs to return to power in Punjab, it also has to make a decent breakthrough in other states to remain relevant

For the saffron party, the biggest challenge is the largest state Uttar Pradesh, where the results also have the potential to affect Presidential elections scheduled later this year.

Any dent in the assembly elections, particularly in UP, may affect the numbers game of the BJP in the electoral college. With 403 seats, the UP Assembly accounts for a vote value of around 83,824— that is around 15.25 per cent of MLAs in the electoral college.

For the party that banks on optics and the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the digital format of electioneering is expected to be more beneficial for the BJP given its deep-rooted party network and strong booth management.

BJP chief ministers, including Yogi Adityanath and Pushkar Singh Dhami, have already predicted an “overwhelming majority” for the party. Adityanath said that with the “blessings of the people and on the basis of achievements of the double engine government, the BJP will form the next government in Uttar Pradesh with an overwhelming majority”

Observers say that elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Punjab and Goa will also answer several questions that will affect the politics across the country. If the BJP wins Uttar Pradesh, Adityanath will emerge as a strong contender as a successor to PM Modi in future.

If the Congress returns in Punjab, the win will be attributed to Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who affected the leadership changes in the state, replacing Amarinder Singh with Charanjit Singh Channi. The performance in Punjab and UP will also be seen as a reflection on Priyanka’s leadership skills and determine her future in the Congress.

Total seats

Uttarakhand: 70

Uttar Pradesh: 403

Punjab: 117

Goa: 40

Manipur: 60

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