Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram go to polls on Wednesday

NEW DELHI: Albeit the distasteful ''maa-baap'' rhetoric by rivals and matching acrimonious discourse by the BJP in the run-up, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram polls on Wednesday will be an indicator of key trends, particularly the mood of farmers and minority/tribal communities ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram go to polls on Wednesday

Poll officials collect their Electronic Voting Machines from an EVM distribution centre ahead of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections in Jabalpur on Tuesday, November 27, 2018. PTI

Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 27

Albeit the distasteful 'maa-baap' rhetoric by rivals and matching acrimonious discourse by the BJP in the run-up, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram polls on Wednesday will be an indicator of key trends, particularly the mood of farmers and minority/tribal communities ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. 

While in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress is trying to topple the three-term Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the BJP, in Mizoram it is the other way around. Congress' Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, the longest serving CM of the northeastern forest state, is facing a tough re-election and rivals. 

Though national issues like Rafale deal, demonetisation, GST, dynastic politics prevailed, these elections will test Chouhan's performance amid clamour for a change and prevailing anger over agrarian issues, unemployment and issues like corruption. 

Farmers' protests last year made Mandsaur the epicentre of a nation-wide agitation. Despite Chouhan having announced a host of schemes to benefit the common man, including farmers, complains of rising debt and falling incomes continued to dominate political discourse both in urban and rural areas.  

Results on December 11 will tell whether the Congress and others managed to turn the anger against the BJP to their advantage 

Meanwhile, in Christian/tribal dominated Mizoram the BJP is hoping to break the ground in a state with very few of its traditional votebank. So far as the incumbent CM is concerned, apart from the anti-incumbency factor he is also contending with an "upset" Church and strong political rivals -- the  Mizo National Front and the nascent Zoram Peoples' Movement (ZPM) -- with everyone eyeing majority Mizos and support from minority Hindu and Buddhist tribes. 

With majority (87%) of Mizos being Christians in various denominations, Mizoram will be an interesting test case of the BJP/RSS reach in the state. The state also has a Chakma Theravada Buddhist population of 8.5%, making them the largest minority, followed by Hindus at 2.7%, as per the 2011 Census. Northeast may be no longer an unknown destination for the BJP nut it has so far failed to break into the 40-member Assembly. The Sangh is said to have little presence among the Mizos though it has made inroads among Reang/Bru and Chakma communities.  December 11 will show how far it managed to penetrate in a Christian/tribal dominated state.

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