Ruling parties were poised to return to power in three states with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress striding way ahead of the BJP in West Bengal while the BJP was comfortably ahead in Assam as was the LDF in Kerala, Election Commission trends indicated on Sunday. As votes were counted for the assembly polls in four states and one union territory with strict Covid protocols in place, trends indicated that Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK could cede power to arch-rival DMK. In Puducherry, the AINRC-led NDA was headed towards power.
The cynosure of the elections, held over March and April as the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic picked up pace to finally ravage large parts of the country, was the high-stakes, acrimonious contest in West Bengal where the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC looked set for a convincing win against the BJP. The TMC was ahead in 202 of the 292 seats, way over the halfway mark of 147, leaving the BJP trailing far behind in 77 seats. It was a long way from the three seats in the last elections for the party, which fielded its top leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, but power was still elusive – if the trends translated into results. The Left parties, which once called the state their bastion, and the Congress were decimated and not even a factor. Though the TMC seemed to have successfully ridden the BJP challenge, it could well be a bitter-sweet moment for Banerjee herself with trends showing she was trailing behind her one-time loyalist and now BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram by bout 3,700 votes. In terms of vote share, the TMC had 48.5 per cent of the votes against the BJP’s 37.4.
The BJP seemed to have reason to smile in Assam where the ruling NDA was ahead of the Congress-led Grand Alliance with leads in 79 of 126 seats. BJP candidates were leading in 62 seats, while its ally AGP in 10 and the UPPL in seven. The Grand Alliance was ahead in 38 seats and its spearhead Congress in 25 of that. Elated over the trends, Asssam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the people had blessed them. We can say for sure that the BJP will form government in Assam. We are coming back to power with our partners AGP and UPPL," Sonowal told reporters.
In southern Kerala, Left-led alliance LDF was poised for a another term in power power, the first time in four decades that the same grouping could form government for the second consecutive time. The two main constituents of the LDF, the CPI(M) and the CPI, were together leading in 71 seats, the magic number for power in the 140-member assembly. In good news for the BJP, it was ahead in three seats in Kerala and four in Tamil Nadu, its efforts to make an electoral dent in the two southern states bearing fruit. Neighbouring Tamil Nadu could, however, break the trend of ruling parties returning to power. While the DMK was ahead in 118 seats, a feather in its president M K Stalin’s cap, the AIADMK was trailing with leads 79 seats in the 234-member assembly. Victory in 118 of the total 234 constituencies will ensure a simple majority.
Tamil Nadu was also the one bright spot for the Congress where the DMK-led opposition alliance, of which it is a part, looked in a position of power to trounce the AIADMK-BJP coalition. Both the Dravidian parties went into the election without their stalwarts, J Jayalalithaa for the AIADMK and M Karunanidhi for the DMK.
Though the Election Commission had banned victory roadshows and vehicle rallies, crowds of jubilant supporters of various parties could be seen celebrating in various parts of the country.