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Akhilesh Yadav is ready for an alliance with BSP to stay in power

With the exit polls showing a possible rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state of Uttar Pradesh and predicts a hung assembly after the state election results come out, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav stated that he is ready for an alliance to keep the BJP at bay. “No one wants President’s rule in the state where the BJP is able to run the government with a remote control from Delhi,” Akhilesh Yadav told BBC.

“I feel that the youth of UP, the women and the farmers have supported the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance. The BJP has not been able to show any work,” Akhilesh Yadav told BBC.

During election campaigning, interestingly, Akhilesh Yadav and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had ruled out any kind of alliance.

However, sources have said that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has spoken to both Akhilesh Yadav and BSP Chief Mayawati and has tried to broker a political alliance between them in order to check the BJP. The results in Uttar Pradesh as well in other four states have confirmed that the voter sentiment is in favour of the BJP.

Uttar Pradesh is staring at the prospect of a hung Assembly, as most exit polls predict huge gains for the BJP but not an outright majority needed to form the government.

Is it the end of the road for Akhilesh Yadav? No, certainly not.  Those assuming that Yadav is write-off are undermining the intelligence of the electorate. UP’s electorate would rather have a touch-and-feel chief minister than a faceless CM whose name will be announced only after election results are announced.

Analysts have grossly under-estimated the impact he has had on the state’s janta through the laptop scheme, the unemployment allowance (Rs 1000 per month) scheme and the senior citizen farmers’ pension schemes (Rs 500 per month) which have touched millions of lives across the state. His regime also provided free books up to class 8; each girl child got two sets of school uniforms free every year; children from families who earn under Rs 5 lakh per annum are provided private higher education for free; a tablet for every student passing Class X.

In fighting a public battle with uncle Shivpal Yadav on the issues of corruption and mismanagement, Akhilesh has captured the higher morale ground which has appealed to the youth. The Goodwill generated by this feud will be tested for the first time at ballot this year.

The Shiromani Akali Dal might get a huge jolt in Punjab
The Shiromani Akali Dal might get a huge jolt in Punjab

PUNJAB

Thursday’s exit polls are unclear about who will win in Punjab: An average of the polls gives 55 seats to the Congress and 54 to the Aam Aadmi Party, in a 117-strong assembly. If those numbers are accurate, the result will be a hung house. Two polls actually give a majority to a party, but with opposite results. Axis says the Congress will win, while CVoter gives the state to AAP. But all the exit polls were clear about one thing: Punjab’s voters are kicking out the incumbent Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party government.

The SAD-BJP government managed a surprising victory despite anti-incumbency in 2012, breaking the see-saw nature of the Punjab elections that had persisted for two decades before. But after 10 years of the BJP-SAD rule, the public seemed to have turned against the ruling alliance, especially in light of an agricultural crisis, concerns about unemployment and a huge increase in the spectre of drugs in the state.

The AAP, a Delhi-based party that pulled off a shocker in 2014 by winning its first four Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, saw this anti-incumbent anger as an opportunity. Delhi Chief Minister and party head Arvind Kejriwal led a massive campaign in the state, helping turn the drugs narrative into a national storyline and managing to whip up the simmering anger against the Akalis.

The Congress meanwhile, saw Punjab as an existential concern, since it looked like the only major state where it could possibly hope to win by itself. It put former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh in charge, and added firepower from strategist Prashant Kishore’s team in an effort to take the state.

There is always a chance that exit polls are wrong, as they have shown us time and again in the past. But it would be truly un-precedented for all of the polls to be quite so consistently wrong on how badly the SAD-BJP combine is likely to do, since all seem to be saying the same thing. The question of who will come to power in the state however, seems wide open right now.

GOA

The 2017 Assembly elections in the state of Goa will pave the way for the 16th government to take control of India’s smallest state since it inception in June 1962. The assembly elections were held in a single phase on the 4th of February 2017, the results of which will be formally announced by the Election Commission of India on 11th March 2017.

The polls are particularly important as for the first time, the Aam Aadmi Part has tried its hands in the Goan electoral process. With a total of 39 candidates, the party has fielded the maximum number of contestants from any party in the current polls. The Indian National Congress (INC) has fielded 37 candidates and are closely followed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with 36 candidates.

The BJP’s manifesto for the Goa polls has two main pitches, job creation and development. The party has also promised employment opportunities in the MOPA airport project. The party, however, did not touch upon the issues of casinos and the mining industry, a key issue

The elections play a crucial role for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s politics in the country. A clear victory or even a significant lead would indicate the acceptance of the policies of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Union government. Prime among them would be the significant demonetisation policy launched on November 8, 2016 by PM Narendra Modi.

The victory would further cement the possibility of a return to power in the Union government by the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Meanwhile, the victory of the Aam Aadmi Party would mean the clear expansion of the party as a national power with influence in major regions of the country. The Congress party, however, has to remain careful of not losing minimal power for fear of getting erased from the political scene of India.

The ruling BJP government in the state had fielded candidates in 37 out of total 40 constituencies for the upcoming polls. However, the party has decided to support independent candidates contesting from Vellim, Benaulim and Nuvem area. There is no clarity on who the BJP’s Chief Ministerial candidate will be. While rumours are rife that the incumbent Chief Minister, Laxmikanth Parsekar will continue as the Chief Minister if the party wins the elections, there could be a change of choice made depending on the final results.

A crucial deciding factor for the BJP’s victory in the Assembly elections in Goa, are the votes of Catholics. The religious denomination forms 28 percent of the state’s population. While the BJP had mostly campaigned in the northern regions of the state, that are predominantly Hindu dominated, the party cannot afford to completely lose the votes of the community. Catholics are mainly spread across South Goa and comprise 28 percent of the state’s population.

A total of 251 candidates are contesting the Assembly elections for 40 legislative assembly seats. The candidates, comprising of 19 female representatives, belong mainly to four political groups; The Aam Aadmi Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress party and the three-party alliance of the Maharashtrwadi Gomnatak Party (MGP), the Shiv Sena (SS) and the Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) parties. Exit polls will be released by major agencies for the Goa polls tomorrow. However, the formal results of the Goa Assembly elections 2017 will be announced on March 11, 2017.