With seven State Legislative Assembly Elections scheduled for 2017, the Indian political climate is rife with activity this year. Five of those elections – in Goa, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Manipur – will conclude over February and early March, with the announcement of final results expected by March 11. Here is a quick look at what is at stake for each state.
117 seats are being fought over in the state of Punjab whose elections concluded on February 4, 2017. The fiercest battles have emerged between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Indian National Congress (INC), the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), and the nationally ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The current Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal heads the SAD-BJP Alliance, however neither party fared too well in the opinion polls in the lead-up to the elections. The AAP, which did not contest the previous Legislative Assembly election in this state, has emerged strongly in several polls, although the majority of polls seem to indicate the strongest support for the INC.
The Goa Legislative Assembly elections were also held on February 4, 2017 for 40 seats. Currently under the leadership of Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar from the BJP, the opinion polls in the state show strong possibility of the party returning to power. The INC and the AAP will both be close contenders in this election as well.
The battle for 69 seats in Uttarakhand concluded in a single phase like in Goa and Punjab, on February 15, 2017. Here however the two major national parties, the BJP and the INC were the most important participants. Chief Minister Harish Rawat from the INC is currently in power after the previous election in which neither party held a comfortable majority. However opinion polls indicate that this time the BJP may overturn the incumbent.
With 403 seats, the Uttar Pradesh election will be one of the largest and most important ones, and it began on February 11, 2017. To be held over seven phases with a significant increase in polling booths, this state is the site of an extremely close battle among the Samajwadi Party (SP) and INC alliance, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the BJP. A win here is critical for each of these parties – to strengthen its hold at the center in the case of the BJP, to end their decreasing political relevance here for the INC and to reiterate their strength and the relevance of specific vote banks in the case of the BSP. While the SP alliance seems to be faring best with the most number of opinion polls predicting a return of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, the BJP is not too far behind. The BSP, however, is seen trailing.
The election for 60 seats in Manipur begins on March 1, 2017. Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh of the INC is currently in power after a clear and strong victory in the previous election. However, the BJP will be attempting to make a strong show this time – not only to make up for their lack of relevance in the previous elections, but also to strengthen promises made at the center regarding their commitments to the states in the northeast.