As part of preparation for the upcoming assembly elections, the schedule for elections in Goa, Punjab, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh will be announced today at approximately 3:30 PM by the Election Commission of India, as per a statement published in news agency ANI.
Assembly elections in Goa were scheduled to take place in February, Punjab in February/March, Manipur in March, Uttarakhand in February and Uttar Pradesh in February to March as per existing announcements. Two more states - Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat - will witness polling towards the end of the year.
Electioneering and rallying is in full force in these major states as a tussle between the Bharatiya Janata Party, Trinamool Congress and National Congress Party looks to be on the horizons in Goa, where the TMC hopes to gain foothold. Punjab too has become a flashpoint recently after a series of brutal lynchings and a bombing at the Ludhiana district court have resulted in heightened security tensions and warnings of a rise in Khalistani extremism.
The recent issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's convoy getting stuck on a flyover on the way to a rally at Ferozepur has also been lambasted by the Ministry of Home Affairs as a "major security lapse" on the part of the Congress government in Punjab, with leading BJP officials alleging that the PM was deliberately out in danger.
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has denied the allegations and said that a man of the PM's stature should not resort to "cheap theatrics" in order to get a reaction from the public. The Congress is adamant that the issue was manufactured to create a favourable outlook for the BJP ahead of polls.
Uttar Pradesh is India's most populous state and arguably most crucial politically. With a population over 200 million cutting across caste and communities, and 80 Lok Sabha seats and 403 assembly seats, the state wields disproportionate power in the country's politics. Having roots in the state propels a political party or leader to the national arena because no other state comes close in terms of political heft.
The Congress has opted to stand and fight alone with no real allegiances in Uttar Pradesh although it has seen dismal results before this. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, senior Congress leader, vowed to field 40% female candidates out of Congress party workers contesting the election in a bid to appeal to Uttar Pradesh's women voter base.