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Regional polls may have Indian national impacts

NEW DELHI: The announcement of the Assembly poll schedule has set the stage for some of the more dramatic confrontations in Indian politics.
For the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu and the Trinamool Congress in Bengal, it will be a battle to protect hard-won turf against other regional forces (the DMK) or the likely coming-together of national parties like the Congress and the Left Front.

Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam
According to Neelanjan Sircar, psephologist with the Centre for Policy Research, “The most obvious way of looking at the polls is through the prism of the ruling party at the Centre. The only State that the BJP has hopes of winning is Assam. If they do not win, they would have gone two years without a victory and it would create huge pressure to deliver in Uttar Pradesh in 2017.”

“The other way of looking at them is through the anti-incumbency pattern. In Tamil Nadu, will the alliance between the DMK, the Congress and possibly the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam be enough to maintain the pattern of alternation in government, or will the AIADMK break the pattern? In West Bengal, the point of interest will definitely be whether the likely understanding between the Congress and the Left will eat into Trinamool’s votes,” he said. Pradeep Gupta, head of psephology firm Axis-Ad-Print Media, which correctly predicted the Bihar poll outcome last year, holds anti-incumbency to be the most important factor. “For me, the elections would simply be a decision on how far voters allow anti-incumbency to decide their preference.”

These elections may not significantly alter the political position of the national parties but alliances will be important experiments for the future.

Important dates:

Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry will vote on May 16March 5, 2016

Mamata announces list of candidates March 5, 2016

75,000-80,000 paramilitary troops for Assembly polls in 5 StatesMarch 4, 2016

Three code violation complaints in TN within hours of poll dates announcementMarch 4, 2016

High stakes in the Assembly pollsMarch 5, 2016

4 States, Puducherry to go to polls between April 4 and May 16 March 4, 2016

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