In First Election Since Kashmir And NRC, BJP Targets Haryana, Maharashtra

Assembly elections 2019: The polls in Maharashtra and Haryana are the first since key policy decisions by the BJP, such as the withdrawal of Article 370 and the passing of the 'Triple Talaq' bill


PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah will spearhead the BJP's campaign in Haryana and Maharashtra

New Delhi:  Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, announced today by the Election Commission for October 21, will be the first in the country since Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the BJP to success in Lok Sabha polls in May. Nearly 11 crore people will vote across the two states in an election that is also the first since PM Modi's government pushed through several key pieces of legislation in parliament's monsoon session, such as the abrogation of Article 370 and the 'Triple Talaq' bill, as well as completing the NRC in Assam. Kick-starting the BJP's election campaign in Haryana, PM Modi reminded voters of some of these 'firsts', saying, "whatever big decisions were taken, it is in your favour... triple talaq, mand many steps are being taken to strengthen the economy... be it Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh or the water problem, people have started looking for solutions".
Here are some of the firsts ahead of Assembly Elections 2019:
  1. In both Haryana and Maharashtra the BJP is likely to rely on the "Modi magic" on which it rode to victory in 2014 and 2019 national polls, a hallmark of which was aggressive campaigning by the PM. Opposition hopes the "Modi magic" effect has faded over time could be dashed, judging by the ratio of rallies addressed to seats won - in 2014 PM Modi addressed more than 400 rallies and the BJP won 282 seats. Five years later he addressed only 144 rallies but the BJP claimed 303 seats.
  2. The BJP, which made the withdrawal of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir a poll issue during national elections, followed through with that promise last month. The party is likely to bank on that decision to collect votes in both states. PM Modi has already set the tone in that regard, raising the issue in Nashik and Rohtak, where he spoke of his vision for Jammu and Kashmir - one that embraces Kashmir and recreate it as the "paradise" it once was. However, Congress leader Kapil Sibal has warned the BJP the opposition will not play ball and will, instead, focus on issues like unemployment and agrarian crisis.
  3. The 'Triple Talaq' bill is another key piece of legislation that could prove influential. The contentious bill was passed after a heated debate in parliament that witnessed walkouts by two key BJP allies - Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) and Tamil Nadu ruling party AIADMK. Haryana is one of several states, including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, to make prompt use of the law. 
  4. Another issue likely to be key is the NRC exercise that was recently completed in Assam. Political leaders in both Haryana and Maharashtra have called for similar citizenship verification drives, with Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar among those. On Wednesday, Home Minister Amit Shah insisted NRC would be applied across the country and, as such, the topic is likely to feature in the BJP's campaign. 
  5. This will also be the first election since Rahul Gandhi stepped down as Congress president. The Congress, now under the interim leadership of former president Sonia Gandhi, has struggled to impose itself after two successive disastrous performances in national polls. Coupled with a raft of defections of leaders in both Haryana and Maharashtra, the Congress needs inspiration and an identity if it is to compete with the BJP juggernaut. With that in mind, Ms Gandhi's return may be used by the BJP; while campaigning for national polls PM Modi regularly criticised the Congress for failing to look beyond the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.
  6. The economic slowdown - GDP growth went from 8 per cent in the quarter ending June 2018 to 5 per cent in the first quarter of FY 2019/20 - is likely to be a rallying point for the opposition. The dire situation, highlighted by a crisis in the auto industry that has left over 3 lakh jobless, has sparked criticism from the Congress, with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging the centre to "put aside vendetta politics... and steer our economy out of this man-made crisis". These elections are also the first since unemployment hit a 45-year high. The Congress, which has targeted Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in recent weeks, will be keen to make this the focus of its attack in both states.

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Assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra scheduled for October 21
Elections are the first since the BJP won huge mandate in Lok Sabha polls
Elections also the first since withdrawal of Article 370 and NRC in Assam

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