A year of reckoning

Nine assembly elections are scheduled this year. These state polls assume extreme importance in the backdrop of the general elections scheduled next year. Dates to three states have already been announced. Here is a preview.


By Chanakya

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has already announced the dates of three assembly elections to be held this year of Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland. However, throughout the year, six more assembly elections are due, this series assuming tremendous importance in the run-up to next year’s general elections.

The other states to go to the polls at different times of the year are Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the major stakeholder in most states. In four states: Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan the principal combatants will be the BJP and Congress. The northeast is not exactly in BJP control but some areas are under the influence of the BJP. The Congress has no government in this area, its three bastions being Rajasthan, Chhatisgarh and Himachal Pradesh.

As per  the ECI announcement recently, all constituencies of Tripura will vote in a single phase on February 16. Meghalaya and Nagaland will vote on February 27. Votes will be counted in all the three states on March 2.

The tenures of the three assemblies, with 60 seats each, end on March 12, 15 and 22, respectively. There are more than 62.8 lakh electors combined in the three states including 31.47 lakh female electors, 97,000 voters over the age 80, and 31,700 PwD voters. The interesting part is that there will be over 1.76 lakh first-time voters for Tripura, Nagaland, and Meghalaya.

Tripura assembly elections (60 seats)

The tenure of the Tripura Assembly is scheduled to end on March 22. In 2018 the BJP had won 35 seats in the 60-member assembly. Last year, at the civic polls of this state, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) had put a foot in the door, but was singed badly, when BJP won in a landslide, clinching 329 out of the 334 seats at stake in 13 urban local bodies. It is likely that TMC will be in fray again, and still considering the large Bengali-speaking population of this state, it may have some chance. However, if the civic polls are any indication, TMC, again, could be murdered.

Tripura, for long, had been a CPI(M) bastion. In 2018 the BJP came to power, ending a 25-year reign of the Left Front. On May 14, 2022, in an abrupt change, the BJP dropped Biplab Deb and brought in the relatively low-key Manik Saha as CM.

This time the Congress and CPI(M) are trying to put up a fight together, while the tribal TIPRA Motha party, formed in 2021, may take away tribal votes of BJP’s ally IPFT. TIPRA Motha may end up being a decisive factor in the elections.

If the vote share is any indication, the CPI(M) is stillin with a chance, better than the TMC.

Seats won in 2018 and vote share:

BJP – 35 (43.59%)

CPI(M) – 16 (42.22%)

IPFT – 8 (7.38%)

Meghalaya assembly elections (60 seats)

Meghalaya is a story of Congress’ strategic failure, a la Goa. In 2018 Congress had won 21 seats and had emerged as the single largest party. However, it had failed to secure the majority to form a government. 

The BJP, which won only two seats, had then formed an alliance with the Conrad Sangma-led National People’s Party (NPP) to form the government. NPP had secured 20 seats. This year, Meghalaya will witness a three-way contest as the NPP has announced that it would fight the polls alone.

TMC has now entered Meghalaya as well. The most vocal Opposition party against the BJP in the state is the TMC. In November 2021, 12 of 17 sitting Congress MLAs, led by former Chief Minister and six-time MLA Mukul Sangma, switched over to TMC. Mukul Sangma, a popular leader, can help the party, especially in his home turf of Garo Hills, which sends as many as 24 MLAs to the 60-member Assembly.

Seats won in 2018 and vote share:

BJP – 2 (9.63%)

Congress – 21 (28.50%)

Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) – 2 (5.35%)

NPP – 19 (20.6%)

United Democratic Party – 6 (11.61%)

Khun Hyniewtrap National Awakening Movement – 1 (0.9%)

Nagaland assembly elections (60 seats)

In Nagaland, the BJP had joined hands with the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) before the 2018 polls and had formed the government. NDPP won 18 seats and BJP got 12.

The Naga People’s Front (NPF) had secured 26 seats, but had failed to form the government.

It was in hope of this that all parties here joined hands in 2021 to form the UDA. The Naga People’s Front (NPF), which once ruled the state, has announced that it will be contesting the election alone and against the NDPP-BJP coalition. Like in 2018, both parties have announced a pre-poll alliance, with the BJP set to contest 20 seats and the NDPP the remaining 40.

Seats won in 2018 and vote share:

NPF – 26 (38.78%)

NDPP – 17 (25.30%)

BJP – 12 (15.31%)

Independents – 1 (4.28%)

JD(U) –1 (4.49%)


Karnataka assembly elections (224 seats)

The term of the 224-member Karnataka legislative assembly ends on May 24 and elections in the BJP-ruled state are likely to be held in late April or early May. 

In 2018 no party had got a majority and after the hung assembly. in the tussle, BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa was sworn in as the chief minister by the governor, but had to resign because he could not muster the majority. 

Subsequently, the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) stitched an alliance to form a government with HD Kumaraswamy as the chief minister. However, 14 months later, the Kumaraswamy government fell after over a dozen MLAs of the ruling coalition resigned. 

In July 2019, Yediyurappa was again sworn in as the chief minister. Retaining Karnataka ahead of the 2024 General Elections is important for BJP as it is the only southern state where the party is in power.

Chhattisgarh assembly elections (68 seats)

The tenure of the Chhattisgarh legislative assembly is scheduled to conclude on January 3, 2024. The Congress-ruled state may witness polls in December this year.

In 2018, the grand old party uprooted BJP’s 15-year rule by securing 68 seats in the 91-member Assembly. The saffron camp had settled with 15 seats.

Madhya Pradesh assembly elections (230 seats)

Madhya Pradesh is another crucial state that will vote this year. The polls to elect members of the 230 constituencies is expected to take place in December as the term of the Madhya Pradesh legislative assembly will end on January 6.

After the 2018 elections, the state witnessed Congress and BJP both coming to power. 

Congress first wrested power from the BJP after winning 114 seats in the 230-member Assembly and Kamal Nath served as the chief minister for around three years. However, BJP’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan reclaimed his throne after two years when 22 sitting Congress MLAs along with party heavyweight Jyotiraditya Scindia resigned and joined the saffron camp.

Mizoram assembly elections (40 seats)

Mizoram is expected to vote in November or December. The tenure of the legislative assembly is due to end on December 17.

Currently, the Mizo National Front (MNF) is in power, led by Chief Minister Zoramthanga. In 2018, MNF won 26 seats in the 40 member-Assembly, and Zoram People’s Movement took eight. While Congress had won five seats, the BJP had opened its account in the state for the first time.

Rajasthan assembly elections (200 seats)

The much-awaited Rajasthan Assembly elections are also due this year. The current Rajasthan legislative assembly will end on January 14 and the elections may be conducted in December.

In the 2018 polls, Rajasthan saw Congress ending BJP rule and winning 100 seats in the 200-member Assembly. The saffron party received 73 seats.

While the Congress will look to retain the desert state, the BJP will look to benefit from the internal rift between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot. 

Telangana assembly elections (119 seats)

The tenure of the Telangana legislative assembly is scheduled to end on January 16, 2024, so elections are due in December this year.

In 2018, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) K Chandrashekar Rao secured a landslide victory by winning 87 of the 119 seats. 

The Congress won 19 seats, two less than in 2014. It had struck a pre-poll alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and two others. TDP won two seats as against 15 last time. The BJP could bag just one seat.

By-election schedule

By-election to one assembly constituency each in Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, two ACs in Maharashtra, and one Parliamentary constituency in Lakshadweep.