Assembly elections 2023: From Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh to Karnataka, a look at states that will set the tone for 2024 Lok Sabha polls

New Delhi: From the northeast, central to south India, this year is going to witness Assembly polls in as many as nine states. The high-stake electoral battles, which will take place in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Mizoram, will undoubtedly set the tone for the much-awaited 2024 Lok Sabha battle – the mother of all elections. While 2022 was a year in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continued its political dominance (except for a few hiccups in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh), its performance this year will determine if it will register its third successive electoral victory in the 2024 General Elections. 

The BJP bigwigs, who have already started addressing rallies in the poll-bound states, want to keep their last year’s momentum going into 2023 and appear poised to retain Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka and oust the K Chandrasekhar Rao-led Bharat Rashtra Samithi in Telangana and Congress in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

The main opposition party Congress, on the other hand, is currently riding high in the wake of its triumph in the 2022 Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections and because of the massive public support for Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra. The Congress central leadership, under new party president Malikarjun Kharge, is confident to give a neck-and-neck fight to an “invincible” BJP.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which ate a major chunk of Congress votes in recently-concluded Gujarat polls, will also like to make its presence felt in the states going to the polls this year. 

Here’s a look at the states that will vote in 2023:

Tripura Assembly Elections

The tenure of the Tripura Assembly is scheduled to end on March 22, and elections are expected to take place around the same time. Earlier in 2018, BJP had swept the Assembly polls by winning 35 seats in the 60-member Assembly. 

However, with the entry of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, the upcoming elections will not be a cakewalk for the saffron party. 

Meghalaya Assembly Elections

The 2023 Meghalaya polls are likely to be held in February or March as the tenure of the current Legislative Assembly is scheduled to end on March 15. Earlier in the 2018 elections, Congress had won 21 seats in the 60-member Assembly and had emerged as the single largest party. It, however, had failed to secure the majority to form a government. 

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.

Nagaland Assembly elections

The Nagaland Assembly elections are also expected to take place in February or March. The tenure of the current Nagaland Legislative Assembly is scheduled to end on March 12.

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

While NDPP had won 18 seats in the 60-member Assembly, BJP had got 12.

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

Karnataka Assembly elections

Karnataka is one of the key states going to polls in 2023. 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. Earlier in 2018, no party had got a majority and after the hung assembly, BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa was sworn in as the chief minister by the governor but resigned due to not being able to 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

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

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

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

Presently, 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

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

Telangana will also go to polls in December as the state assembly’s term is due to end on January 16.

Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who has already kept his eyes on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, is looking to keep his Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), now Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), in power. 

BJP, on the other hand, is trying to make inroads in Telangana and aims to dethrone KCR, who has been in power since the formation of the state.