Madhya Pradesh will vote on Wednesday to either give the BJP a fourth successive term in power notwithstanding anti-incumbency or give a chance to the challenger Congress to break the saffron party’s monopoly over power for the last 15 years.
Similarly, voters in Mizoram will also exercise their franchise on Wednesday to elect a new Assembly in which the Congress is striving for a third successive term against a stiff challenge from the Mizo National Front headed by former Chief Minister Zoramthanga.
Mizoram, one of the four states where the Congress is in power at present besides Punjab and the union territory of Puducherry and part of a coalition in Karnataka, is the last remaining bastion for Congress in the northeast.
The campaign has been high decibel, often marked by bitter personal attacks, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi leading the charge of their parties.
In Madhya Pradesh, the contest is mainly between the BJP and Congress though the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party are also in the fray.
Apart from Modi’s appeal, the BJP is banking on the image of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and its organisational structure. Party President Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and union ministers Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley campaigned in the state.
The Congress put up a spirited fight by raising issues concerning people and putting up a united fight by keeping the issue of leadership at bay.
Rahul Gandhi sought to rejuvenate the state unit by appointing Kamal Nath as the party chief in April this year and naming Jyotiraditya Scindia, MP, as the campaign chief.
Congress leaders have sought to highlight the problems of farmers, the poor, middle class and youths in their rallies holding, especially holding demonetisation and GST as the reasons for the agrarian distress and traders’ plight.
Rahul Gandhi attacked Modi and his government on issues of corruption and promises made in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and by Shivraj Chauhan in the 2013 elections. He has promised a farm loan waiver within 10 days of Congress coming power.
National issues issues like surgical strike, construction of Ram temple, caste and dynasty were raised with the campaign barely revolving around the issue the development.
Modi attacked the Congress on corruption, dynasty politics and several other issues and gave accounts of the achievements of the state and his own government.
Among the 2,907 candidates in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has fielded candidates for all 230 seats while the Congress is contesting in 229 seats leaving one seat, Jatara in Tikamgarh district, for Sharad Yadav-led LJD.
The BSP has fielded 227 candidates and the SP is contesting 51 seats. There are 1,102 independent candidates.
The keenly watched constituency will be Budhni, the home turf of Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The Congress has pitted former Union minister and former Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee chief Arun Yadav against him.
In the last polls, of the 230 seats, the BJP won 165, Congress 58, BSP four and independents three.
Over five crore registered voters in Madhya Pradesh — 2,63,01,300 men, 2,41,30,390 women and 1,389 comprising the third gender — will decide the fate of the candidates.
In Mizoram, the fight is largely between the Congress and the Mizo National Front though the BJP is also seeking to make its presence felt. The BJP has made deep inroads in the northeast since the Modi government came to power at the Centre in 2014 and its performance in the Christian majority state will be keenly watched.
In battle for supremacy in the election to the 40-member Mizoram Assembly, Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla of the Congress is seeking a hat-trick. He claims there is no incumbency against his government.
A total of 209 candidates are in the fray in Mizoram.
The Congress has fielded 40 candidates while the BJP and MNF are contesting in 39 and 40 constituencies respectively.
The Chief Minister is contesting from two seats — Serchhip and Champhai South. The Congress has been in power since Mizoram became a full-fledged state in 1987, except for 10 years between 1998 to 2008.
Around 7.7 lakh voters will decide the fate of 209 candidates.
Counting of votes in both the states, along with three other states – Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana — will be held on December 11.