The stage is set for election results for four states- Kerala, Assam, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu- and a union territory, Puducherry. The voting over these states was conducted at a time when India battled a devastating second wave of coronavirus. While Bengal Assembly elections over 294 Assembly seats was speckled with high drama, Tamil Nadu is expected to throw a surprise with the DMK’s victory. For Assam, it is likely going to be the BJP’s return, while Puducherry is expected to go out of the Congress’ hand, according to exit polls.
As the final results are awaited, here is a list of 10 big names across these five states/union territories that have been the centre of much attention and news during the elections.
TMC chief and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has been at a war of words with the BJP for long, and this has only intensified during the polls in the state. From making accusations of her phone being tapped to an alleged attack where she suffered a fracture, Mamata stayed in the news. On wheelchair days after the attack, Mamata hit the road again and resumed her campaigning. She filed her nominations from Nandigram against BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari was was her close aide until late last year. The Nandigram seat has everyone’s attention to see who wins, TMC’s stronghold or Adhikari’s public acceptance.
DMK chief MK Stalin has some edge in the final results if pollsters are to be believed. He teamed up with the Congress and contested against the AIADMK which has been reeling under leadership crisis after Jayalalitha’s death in 2018. DMK too faced a leadership loss around the same time, but Stalin stepped up and held the reigns of the party soon after his father and party patriarch M Karunanidhi passed away in August 2018. Exit polls show DMK and its allies are set to get the lion’s share in final results tomorrow.
Once a close aide to AIADMK’s Jayalalitha, TTV Dhinakaran was expelled from the party. Dhinakaran, Sasikala’s nephew, soon floated his own party Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) and has since been fighting for political survival and has been successful so far, though at an individual-level. He won the by-elections for RK Nagar seat, months after being ousted from the party. In March 2018, he formed his own party AMMK.
Once Mamata’s close aide, Suvendu Adhikari is now contested against her in a battle of prestige from Nandigram after he switched sides to join the BJP. He resigned from Mamata’s government in November 2020. From accusing the TMC chief of indulging into ‘minority appeasement’ politics to challenging her on the political battlefield, his political trajectory has been an interesting one. Already
surrounded by high drama, Suvendu vs Mamata contest has added suspense to the Bengal polls
Even though Assam may be headed for the BJP’s second consecutive term, Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) has managed to make its presence felt. The Congress formed an alliance with Ajmal’s party, which the BJP says is an enemy of the Assamese identity. In Assam, the AIUDF is perceived to be a party having the support of Bengali-origin Muslims from Bangladesh, who many contend pose a threat to the state’s cultural identity. Earlier, the AIUDF even claimed that “five-six BJP contestants" in the Assam polls had contacted the party promising support to the Congress-led Grand Alliance of which Badruddin Ajmal’s outfit is a constituent. Some AIUDF members were even flown to Jaipur fearing poaching attempts by the BJP.
The pollsters’ prediction for E Palamiswami’s AIAMDK may not be as promising, but as Tamil Nadu chief minister managed to gold together the party after Jayalalitha’s death. While the party feared a split between two factions, it emerged from the crisis and EPS managed his grip over power.
Known as the ‘metro man of India’ and revolutinarising India’s public transport system with metro rail services, E Sreedharan, an engineer by profession, was fielded by the BJP as its chief ministerial candidate for Kerala. The southern state has been a stronghold of the left and Sreedharan’s candidature appeared to be an attempt to jolt it out of the Left’s control. However, the Left may return as the incumbent party in Kerala, according to poll predictions.
Nipa virus, coronavirus, ravaging floods of 2018, there were several challenges that Vijayan government faced in Kerala. Nipa virus had it taken by surprise in 2018, but Vijayan government tackled it. When floods raged through the state and caused wide-spread damage, the government again made mitigation efforts immediately. And when coronavirus pandemic broke out, the first case reported from India was in Kerala itself. Using its nipa experience, Kerala under Vijayan’s leadership tried to control it and did have initial success. facing pandemics, disasters and controversies like the Sabarimala, Vijayan’s handling of the situations could be a reason that Vijayan led LDF is sure of a historic win.
KK Shailaja, a teacher by profession, has been Kerala’s health minister through its struggle with Nipa virus as well as coronavirus. When states were figuring out how to tackle emerging threat of coronavirus in early 2020, Shailaja was into it already. Testing tracing and isolating. She led Kerala to make small triumphs to contain pandemics. Shailaja was even enlisted along with New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern and Germany’s Angela Merkle in taking the fight against coronavirus head-on.
Himanta Biswa Sarma
Sarma, a politician from Assam, was initially with the Congress but later joined the BJP in 2016, after being an MLA from Jalukbari from 2001 to 2015 while he was with the Conngress. He was banned by the Election Commission from campaigning for 48 hours with for allegedly making threatening remarks against against Bodoland People’s Front chief Hagrama Mohilary. Sarma was one of the star campaigners for the BJP in Assam during the Assembly elections this year.