New Delhi: The schedule of Lok Sabha elections announced on Sunday has provided the Bharatiya Janata Party an opportunity to run concerted campaigns in some of the crucial states it is trying to expand or is facing tough contests. The party, however, also faces
For the Congress, which is short on resources, the long campaign poses its own challenges: it requires to make more strenuous efforts to build its narrative on unemployment, farm distress and Modi government’s unfulfilled promises in the face of perception that the air strikes on a terror base camp in Pakistan
The Congress’ best hopes are in the states its rules – Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan
The party also has good hopes in Maharashtra and Bihar, where the opposition alliance is likely to
Punjab will go to the polls in the last and seventh phase on May 19, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh will see polling across all seven phases from April 11 to May 19, Himachal Pradesh will go to the polls in the last phase on May 19 and Haryana and Delhi in the penultimate phase on May 12.
Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand will have a
Maharashtra will go for election in the first four phases – April 11, 18, 23 and 29 – and Chhattisgarh in the first three phases.
The schedule shows that in all the states where the Congress is hoping to do well, it will have to sustain a long and hard campaign. It will need to carefully plan rallies of party chief Rahul Gandhi.
The BJP has time to plan its campaign in Hindi heartland states where it had done very well in the 2014 campaign but faces challenges due to anti-incumbency and the Congress gaining ground. The party has already started building on
BJP leaders have been referring to the air strikes on a terror camp in Pakistan last month as also surgical strikes of 2016 to portray the Modi government as strong and decisive compared to
The BJP can carefully plan its campaign in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal which have seven-phased elections. It can also do so in Odisha which will have a four-phased election. This is the first time that Odisha will have multi-phased elections. These four states together account for one-third of the Lok Sabha seats.
In UP, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats and where the BJP in 2014 won 71 seats on its own (two were won by its ally Apna Dal), the party faces combined challenge of the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party
In Bihar that elects 40 MPs, the ruling alliance of the BJP-Janata Dal-United and the Lok Janshakti Party faces a tough contest with a combined opposition that includes Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party
The BJP has been focusing on West Bengal to emerge as the main opponent of the ruling Trinamool Congress. The party is hoping to improve its performance beyond the two Lok Sabha seats that it won in the state in 2014.
Odisha (21 seats) is another state where the BJP has been making serious efforts to gain ground. The Congress has not been able to put up a strong fight over the past few elections against the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
The BJP hopes good performance in West Bengal and Odisha will help it compensate for losses in the Hindi heartland states where it performed remarkably well in the last Lok Sabha elections.
Three of these — Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh
Two other states where BJP is trying to expand its footprint — Kerala and Tamil Nadu — will have a single-phased election.