2018 Assembly Elections

All Your Questions Answered

2018 Assembly Elections All Your Questions Answered

How long has the BJP been ruling in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan?

The BJP has been in power since 2003 in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and 2013 in Rajasthan.

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How close were the fights in these states in 2013?

In Chhattisgarh, very. The difference in vote share between the Congress and the BJP was less than one per cent. While the BJP got 41 per cent of the vote and went on to win 49 of the 90 seats in the state, the Congress got 40.3 per cent of the vote but won 39 seats.

In Madhya Pradesh, not so much. Here the vote difference in vote share between the two parties was more than 7 per cent. The Congress got 36.4 per cent of the vote and 58 of the 229 seats while the BJP won 44.9 per cent of the vote and 165 of the 230 seats.

In Rajasthan, the difference in BJP and Congress vote shares was nearly 12 per cent. While the BJP won 45.2 per cent of the vote and 163 of the 200 seats, the Congress took home just 21 seats with 33.1 per cent of the vote.

In Telangana, where the elections took place in 2014 along with the Andhra Pradesh assembly polls concurrently with the national elections, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi won 63 of the 119 seats with 34 per cent of the vote and the Congress got 21 seats with 25 per cent of the vote. The Telugu Desam Party won 15 seats with 14.5 per cent of the vote.

In Mizoram, the Congress won 34 of the 40 seats with 44.63 per cent of the vote while the Mizo National Front won 5 seats with 28.65 per cent of the vote.

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What do the opinion polls say?

An aggregate of opinion polls, weeks before the assembly elections, has shown that the BJP could hold on to Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh - states it has been ruling for three straight terms.

The Congress could win Rajasthan.

In Telangana, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao's move to go for early elections could pay off, helping him defeat the opposition, the polls show.

Opinion poll results must be considered with caution, though. In recent years, a large number of opinion polls have been way off the mark. Memorable instances in recent times include the Delhi elections of 2015 and Punjab elections of 2017.

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Mayawati is not fighting these elections in alliance with the Congress. To what extent would their chances have improved if they had fought in alliance?

In 2013, the Congress and Mayawati's BSP, contesting separately, won 58 and 4 seats respectively in Madhya Pradesh. Had they fought together and the 6 per cent vote of the BSP added to the Congress' 36 per cent, they would have won as many as 103 seats, one analysis suggests. In other words, an alliance may have got them 41 more seats, which would leave the BJP with 124 of the 230 seats.

In Chhattisgarh, the results would have been even more remarkable. A combined Congress and BSP would have been a real threat to the BJP by claiming 51 seats in the 90-member assembly instead of 39 and 1 respectively. The BJP would have won just 38 of the 90 seats.

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Who are the current chief ministers of the states going to polls?

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What are the major scandals that have affected the government in each state?

In Madhya Pradesh, the Vyapam scam involving corruption in admission and recruitment to professional courses and state services has been the headline scandal to bruise the Shivraj Singh Chouhan administration over the last five years. Other controversies include e-tendering, procurement of onions and pulses, drip-irrigation and the Narmada plantation scam.

In Rajasthan, mob violence and identity politics (like protests over the movie Padmaavat, accused of being disrespectful to the Rajput community, and the shooting of gangster Anandpal) have churned the state ahead of polls. The Vasundhara Raje government has also faced vigorous attacks over corruption, compounded by scam-accused tycoons like Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi fleeing India, the perceived proximity of one of the fugitive offenders - disgraced cricket boss Lalit Modi - to Chief Minister Raje and the row over the Rafale fighter jet deal.

In the weeks before the polls, Telangana has seen allegations of irregularities in the revision of electoral rolls. Irregularities have also been alleged in several irrigation projects of which the Kaleshwaram project is the biggest. Chief Minister KCR has been criticised for his generous donations to temples, Gods and Goddesses from the taxpayer's money. The building of Pragathi Bhavan, a fancy new residence and office for the Chief Minister, at a cost of Rs 50 crore, has drawn criticism. An alleged land scam worth Rs 15,000 crore and one in the Chief Minister's relief fund have hit the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government.

In Chhattisgarh, the Raman Singh government is battling allegations of scams in the public distribution system (PDS) meant to give subsidized rations, the Indira Priyadarshini Mahila Nagrik Sahakari Bank that implicates the Chief Minister and his colleagues, the state's mining and power sectors, and an alleged Rs 5,000-crore chit-fund scandal.

Just ahead of the elections, a major row erupted in Mizoram over a fight between the state's political parties and the chief election officer. The officer, SB Sashank, had pushed for the removal of the state's home secretary, accusing him of interfering in the electoral rolls revision process. The move provoked the Mizo youth, who wanted the bureaucrat, a local, be reinstated and the election official shunted out. On Nov 15, days before polls, SB Sashank was replaced by Ashish Kundra.

Are the assembly election results an indicator of what will happen in 2019?

Since the elections in these states usually take place within six months of the general elections, they are a fairly accurate indicator of which party will win more Lok Sabha seats in the upcoming elections.

For example, the BJP which claimed decisive victories in the state polls of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in 2008 and 2013, then went on to win an overwhelming majority of seats from these two states in the 2009 and 2014 general elections.

In Rajasthan, where the Congress won the 2008 assembly poll, it got most of the Lok Sabha seats in the following 2009 general elections. And the BJP which swept the state in 2013, got all the Lok Sabha seats from Rajasthan in 2014.

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What are bellwether seats?

Bellwether seats are those that have historically voted for the winner. The sentiment in the run up to the polls and early trends on counting day in these seats often act as some of the surest indications of what the outcome will be.

For example, these are the bellwether seats in Madhya Pradesh:

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These are the bellwether seats in Telangana:

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These are the bellwether seats in Rajasthan:

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And here are the bellwether seats in Chhattisgarh:

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Do NRIs have any voting rights?

Yes, as long as they have not acquired citizenship of any other country and are otherwise eligible to be registered as a voter at their place of residence in India.

What if I can't find my name in the electoral rolls, who do I go to for help?

You can contact the nearest Election Commission office or visit the National Voters' Services Portal at www.nvsp.in.

What if I don't have an election card? How do I register? Can I register online?

Even if you don't have an election ID card, you can still vote with most government-issued photo identity documents. These include:

• Passport

• Driving license

• Service identity cards with photograph issued to employees by central or state government-run companies

• Passbooks with photograph issued by a bank or post office

• PAN card

• Smart card issued by the Registrar General of India (RGI) under the National Population Register

• MNREGA job card

• Health insurance smart card issued under a Ministry of Labour scheme

• Pension document with photograph

• Authenticated photo voter slip issued by the election machinery

• Official identity cards issued to lawmakers or legislators

• Aadhaar card

If don't have these, you can register both offline and online for a voter ID card.

To register offline, you have to visit the state election office and request a Form 6. After filling in the necessary details and providing all relevant documents, you can submit the form to be issued the election ID at a later date.

You can also register online by visiting the National Voters' Services Portal at www.nvsp.in.

Can I vote using postal ballot?

Only if you work for the military, the government or are on election duty and are posted outside your state; or you have been taken into custody as "preventive detention".

Can I use my Aadhaar card to vote?

Yes. As long as you have your name in the voters' list, you can walk in to a polling booth and cast your vote with an Aadhaar card as ID proof.

What is model code of conduct? When does the model code of conduct come into effect?

The model code of conduct is a set of guidelines that candidates, and political parties and governments must follow to keep elections fair. These generally include restrictions on government announcements and freebies that can influence voters.

The model code of conduct came into effect as soon as the Election Commission announced election dates on October 6.

Can current MLAs contest Lok Sabha seats? Can they hold both positions?

Yes, a legislator can contest parliamentary elections in India. However, according to the Prohibition of Simultaneous Membership Rules, 1950, they will have to resign from the state legislature within 14 days of the Lok Sabha election results being declared. Therefore, they cannot hold both the positions.

What are EVMs? What are VVPATs?

An EVM or Electronic Voting Machine is an electronic device for recording votes. It consists of two units - a control unit and a balloting unit.

Since 2010, the Election Commission has been phasing in a third unit called the VVPAT or the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail, which allows voters to verify that their votes have been recorded correctly by printing a paper receipt. This system will be used with all voting machines in the upcoming assembly and general elections.

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Can we trust EVMs?

The Election Commission says EVMs are tamper-proof and accurate.

Questions have been raised over EVMs in the past few years, mostly from parties that have lost the polls (the same parties have often swallowed the questions when they won elections).
 
To set questions and doubts at rest, the Election Commission organised a "hackathon" last year, but the allegations of voting machines being manipulated persist.

But given the sheer scale of Indian elections and the size of the electorate, EVMs are unlikely to be discarded. Experts say they are certainly much less "hackable" than ballot boxes which have been known to be stolen, switched or destroyed.

When did Election Commission switch from paper ballot? How long would counting take then?

EVMs were first used in 1982 in 50 polling stations in a by-election to Kerala's Parur assembly seat. The first large scale use of EVMs was in 1998 when it was used in 16 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi. The 2004 Lok Sabha election was the first parliamentary poll conducted entirely on EVMs.

EVMs sped up the process of vote-counting by more than 10 times in some cases. While the counting of ballot papers took between 30 to 40 hours in each assembly constituency, these days results or trends emerge within two to three hours.

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What is NOTA and when was it introduced? Which state has had the highest number of NOTA votes?

NOTA or "None Of The Above" is a voting option on EVMs that allows voters to reject every candidate in their constituency. It was introduced In October 2013 following a Supreme Court order.

In last year's election, Gujarat registered the second highest NOTA votes at 1.8% while Bihar tops the list with 2.48% votes.

What would happen if number of NOTA votes were higher than the votes for main parties contesting?

According to the Election Commission, even if the number of voters choosing NOTA is higher than the number of votes polled by any of the candidates, the candidate who has the largest number of votes has to be declared elected.