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The 10 most intriguing questions ahead of the Lok Sabha elections due by May

The 10 most intriguing questions ahead of the Lok Sabha elections due by May

The 10 most intriguing questions ahead of the Lok Sabha elections due by May
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By Ajay Vaishnav  Jan 16, 2019 6:32:53 AM IST (Updated)

The General Elections is due by May but we know that the polling season is upon us given how the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance are having a go at each other every day. The government is actively publicising its achievements and the opposition is hurling brickbats.

The General Elections is due by May but we know that the polling season is upon us given how the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance are having a go at each other every day.

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The government is actively publicising its achievements and the opposition is hurling brickbats. ‘Grand alliances’ of regional parties are being sewn up. This is the time of the year when politics truly makes strange bedfellows. A year ago, no one would have dared say that the Opposition even had a fighting chance of winning the elections.
Now, a second term for the Narendra Modi government looks increasingly shaky. What was once seen as a walkover now looks a photo finish. That said, politics is a game of several unknowns and as the elections draw closer, these are a set of 10 most absorbing questions on democracy’s biggest contest:
  • Where will Prime Minister Narendra Modi contest from?
  • In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Modi contested from Vadodara in Gujarat and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. The latter was a surprise. After winning in both constituencies, Modi stuck to Varanasi. Speculation is rife that the Prime Minister may pick another temple town Puri to contest upcoming Lok Sabha elections despite Modi ducking the question in this regard during a recent interview to ANI. BJP feels that Modi's candidature from Odisha will brighten its chances in the state ruled by BJD since 2000.
    • What will be the role of Congress in the anti-BJP alliance in Uttar Pradesh?
    • The alliance between bitter rivals Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh in a bid to defeat the BJP could be a gamechanger in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. But the manner in which SP and BSP ignored the Congress casts doubt on the grand old party's ability to cobble and lead the grand alliance. The Congress, which said it will contest in all the seats in Uttar Pradesh on its own, can take solace from the fact that the SP-BSP combine have decided to not field candidates in its traditional bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareli.
      • Who will lead the grand alliance?
      • The BJP has called it a "comical alliance” — a Mahagathbandhan ̛— of “desperate, contradictory and opportunistic political formations." But the results of the last few Lok Sabha bypolls in Uttar Pradesh and the subsequent firming up of SP-BSP alliance shows a grand alliance can become a winning combination. Similar alliances across different states can dash BJP's hopes. The key challenge for grand alliance, however, would be to accommodate national ambitions of its powerful regional satraps.
        • What is the future of Shiv Sena-BJP alliance?
        • The Shiv Sena has made no bones about its displeasure with the BJP-led NDA government on a host of issues since 2014 when the alliance fell part ahead of the assembly elections. They two parties fought separately and the BJP fielded candidates in 260 out of 288 assembly seats; the Sena contested 282 seats. The former won 122 and the latter 63. Ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha elections, Shiv Sena is driving a hard bargain from the BJP, which is on a back foot since the results of assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. Sena reportedly wants half of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra and assembly seats as well.
          • What to make of the AAP factor?
          • Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal has announced that he won’t contest Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi, but the party will field a strong candidate from the seat. The party will be contesting on all the Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Goa and some seats in Uttar Pradesh, its spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh told PTI. In all, AAP will field its candidates at 100 Lok Sabha seats across the country. In the 2014 parliamentary elections, it fielded 432 candidates for 543 Lok Sabha seats across the country, including seven in Delhi. While its stand towards the grand alliance remains unclear, AAP has dropped hints of joining the coalition to remove the Modi government at the centre.
            What is the play in Tamil Nadu?
            The state's 39 Lok Sabha seats could be crucial for both the BJP and Congress in any future government formation despite their marginal role in state politics. As of now, the Congress has a slight edge with its bonhomie with MK Stalin-led DMK. The BJP's only option so far is left in AIADMK and its rebel faction AMMK, Rajnikanth and PMK. If an Indian Express report is to be believed, BJP and AIADMK likely have negotiated a deal for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. The development comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing booth workers in Tamil Nadu via video conferencing, said his party cherished its old allies and said that the doors are always open for “old friends”.
            • Will LK Advani get a Lok Sabha ticket?
            • The odds of BJP patriarch LK Advani getting a Lok Sabha ticket in the upcoming general elections have now decreased considerably. Advani is 90 years old and the chances are high that the party may not field him from anywhere. Advani, a former deputy prime minister, currently represents the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency in his seventh term in the lower house. Apart from Advani, senior BJP leader and MP Murli Manohar Joshi who is serving his sixth term in Lok Sabha, representing Kanpur, may face the axe from BJP's list of lower house contenders.
              • Wil Arun Jaitley fancy another Lok Sabha contest?
              • Union finance minister Arun Jaitley was the BJP candidate for the Amritsar seat in the Lok Sabha. Jaitley's first attempt to contest a direct election ended badly as he lost to Congress candidate Amarinder Singh (who later became Punjab chief minister). While Jaitley was included in the Union cabinet and eventually re-elected to Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, it would be interesting to see whether the party will again bet on Jaitley in Lok Sabha.
                • Who will contest against Rahul Gandhi?
                • BJP has often pitched its popular faces to contest against UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Whether it was Union minister Sushma Swaraj contesting against Sonia in Karnataka’s Bellary in 1999 or fielding Smriti Irani from Amethi against Rahul, BJP raises the bar for the Gandhi family. Despite losing in 2014 in Amethi, Smriti Irani has continued to visit the constituency and spending time among its people and BJP cadre. Whether BJP will expect Irani to make things tough for Rahul in Amethi or use her charisma elsewhere remains to be seen.
                  • How significant is the Jagan factor in Andhra? 
                  • The YSR Congress party chief Jagan Mohan Reddy recently completed his nearly a year-long 'padayatra' of the state, covering almost 3,650 km. Jagan had offered his support to the NDA government in 2014 with BJP in alliance with Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party. With Naidu breaking his alliance with BJP and joining hands with the Congress last year, will Jagan and the BJP come together? While rumours are doing the rounds, Jagan has so far not given any hint of it. Actor Pawan Kalyan's Jana Sena's entry has added to the intrigue in Andhra and a divided vote share could benefit Naidu and Congress.
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