While, obviously, results of state level elections do not exactly reflect the people’s opinion of the Union Government’s performance, some such conclusions can normally be read from them. Now that the elections to the state assemblies of Maharashtra and Haryana have been announced, and for as many as 64 by-elections for assembly seats in several states – the people’s response to the recent initiatives of the Modi Government will be open to estimation. The removal of Article 370, the ‘downslide’ in the economy, and inconveniences such as the stricter MV Act will certainly influence voters’ decisions. The opposition parties will be hoping that the patriotic fervour generated by the initiative on J&K will have less of an impact than the negatives of the economy. It could well mean the difference between putting up a good fight and being completely wiped out at the hustings. While the BJP will argue that it is not only sensitive to the people’s difficulties, it also responds effectively as in the case of Finance Minister Sitharaman’s recent concessions for the corporate sector, the opposition will try and emphasise all the negatives. This became evident on Sunday with the relatively more in sync Congress leader Shashi Tharoor raising the issue of mob lynching, betrayal of the Indian ethos, etc. Much will depend, also, on the management of the convoluted state level politics, which is quite complex in both states. In Haryana, the opposition is quite divided, while in Maharashtra some effort has been made in forging unity. The quick tie-up between the Congress and NCP is the result of past experience. Caste, as always, is a major factor in both states. The entire drama is yet to unfold, but it is expected that the in form BJP state organisations will do a better job. While the Congress has a newbie as state president in Kumari Shelja, the Maharashtra unit is burdened by the old. Factionalism is just as high in, both, BJP and the Congress, the resolving of which will play a large role in achieving success. Then there are the caste and community based spoilers who are not likely to form the government but can upset the chances of others. There is also the question of star campaigners, which BJP has in plenty, headed by PM Modi. Defeat may not come as a surprise to the Congress, but it will be a serious setback for the BJP if it is denied victory in either of these states. The by-elections in Karnataka for 15 seats and in UP for 11 will also have serious repercussions for the ruling party. As always, the stakes are large in this round of elections.