As the Lok Sabha elections draw closer, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh are reeling under the pressure as the two will have simultaneous assembly elections. But it’s the Congress in Telangana that is really feeling the heat as many shift loyalties.
Here’s a look at the main poll activities from various states across the country:
According to an ANI report, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav said that the mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance in Bihar is intact. “There is nothing to worry about; everything is fine in the alliance … Seats and constituencies will be announced after Holi,” he said on March 20.
Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) leader Sharad Yadav said the mahagathbandhan — comprising RJD, LJD, the Congress, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party, Hindustani Awam Morcha, and Vikasshil Insan Party — is likely to announce the seat-sharing arrangement in Bihar on March 22.
With much fanfare and support, Sumalatha Ambareesh, actor and wife of the late Congress leader M H Ambareesh, filed her nomination as an independent candidate on March 20 for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. She is up against Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s son, Nikhil Gowda, in Mandya.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal mocked BJP’s ‘Main bhi Chowkidar’ campaign, saying people should vote for Prime Minister Narendra Modi if they want their children to become watchmen. “If you want your children to get a good education and become doctors, engineers or lawyers, they should vote for AAP,” he said on Twitter.
The Congress, meanwhile, alleged that the country’s ‘chowkidar’ is responsible for “stealing jobs”, PTI reported. “Modi ji has eaten up 4.7 crore jobs of the youth,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, adding that these youngsters had to wash their hands off their jobs due to BJP’s “pan-pakoda policy”. The statement came after a report in The Indian Express claimed that the actual size of India’s male workforce has shrunk for the first time since 1993-1994.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the other hand, attacked the Congress in a blog post, saying that India’s institutions, from the press to the Constitution, have been the biggest casualty of ‘dynastic politics’. “In 2014, people voted for honesty over dynasty; development over decay; security over stagnation.”
Meanwhile, confusion prevailed over a possible alliance between Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. While Kejriwal said the Congress had refused to forge an alliance with his party and that the two sides were not in talks with each other, AAP MP Sanjay Singh said a “5-2 seat sharing deal” had been offered to the Congress. According to a report in The Indian Express, this was done after Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar acted as a mediator between the two sides.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said she will not contest Lok Sabha elections, ANI reported. Her party has tied up with Samajwadi Party to contest in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Meanwhile, Congress General Secretary for Uttar Pradesh (East) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra offered prayers at Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi. Her latest temple visit comes a day after the Election Commission of India asked political parties and religious leaders to refrain from using places of worship for propaganda during the Lok Sabha polls and not get involved in activities that may cause tension between different castes and communities.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who is on a two-day visit to Imphal, said the Prime Minister’s Office has now turned into the “Publicity Minister’s Office” under Narendra Modi. “PM Modi is very good at publicity,” Gandhi said at an event attended by students in Manipur.
He reiterated the Congress’ stand on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. “I am committing to you here that the Congress will defend your culture and history. We are not going to allow the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill to be passed,” he said.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has filed nomination from two assembly constituencies – Hinjili in Ganjam and Bijepur in Bargarh. He will be contesting from Hinjili for the fifth consecutive time. It is believed his decision to simultaneously fight from Bijepur is an attempt to check the growth of BJP in western Odisha.
Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD), which has won four consecutive assembly elections since 2000, is facing stiff competition from the BJP and the Congress, besides a strong anti-incumbency wave.
Simultaneous polling will be held in Odisha for 21 Lok Sabha seats and 147 assembly constituencies in four phases, on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.
In 2014, the BJD had bagged 117 out of the 147 assembly seats, while the Congress got 16 and the BJP bagged 10. In parliamentary polls, the BJD won 20 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats. The BJP won one seat.
The political migrations continued in Telangana as it is set to go to polls in the first phase on April 11. Senior Congress leader and former minister DK Aruna joined the BJP on Wednesday in the presence of the party president Amit Shah.
This is a major setback to the Congress, which is already reeling under steady desertions from its ranks after it suffered severe drubbing in the December assembly elections.
Aruna, a three-time legislator from Gadwal constituency, met the BJP president in New Delhi and was formally admitted into the party. She was accompanied by BJP’s general secretary Ram Madhav. “There is no hope of the Congress regaining its glory in Telangana and in the given circumstances, the BJP is the only party that can fulfil the aspirations of the people,” she said.
The 59-year-old leader, who comes from a family of Congress politicians and has been associated with the grand Old Party for over two decades, is likely to be the BJP candidate for the Mahbubnagar Lok Sabha seat. She was defeated by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) candidate in Gadwal assembly constituency in the recent elections.
Meanwhile, another Congress MLA, B Harshvardhan Reddy from Kollapur constituency, crossed over to the ruling TRS on March 20. With this, nine out of the 19 Congress legislators in the 119-member Telangana Assembly have either announced their decision to switch loyalty or have already joined the ruling party.
In the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, where the assembly and Lok Sabha elections will be held simultaneously on April 11, Pawan Kalyan’s actor-brother Naga Babu joined Jana Sena Party. He will be fielded from Narsapuram Lok Sabha constituency.