Mamata Banerjee’s ruling Trinamool Congress went into the 2016 Assembly elections confidently, with more than 80% of the state’s 6.55-crore electorate came out to vote. This included around 9,400 new Indian citizens from the district of Cooch Behar, who cast their votes for the first time in the last of the six polling phases. The phases were carried over through the months of April and May, and saw all manner of untoward incidents. Violence was reported from several parts of the state, the Election Commission ordered action against a TMC leader, the Bharatiya Janata Party scuffled with local politicians and a Communist Party of India (Marxist) worker died in a crude bomb blast.

In the fray

With more than 1,400 candidates contesting the seats, the polls were conducted on a massive scale. There was tight security at the polling booths, especially in the Maoist belts. The Bharatiya Janata Party attempted to step up its presence in a state where it has not had much success in the past. Meanwhile, the CPI(M) teamed up with Congress in what many considered an uneasy but desperate alliance. The move came largely as a result of the Left’s poor performance in the 2014 Parliamentary elections. While the TMC remained confident ahead of the polls, it was shaken by the Narada News sting operations, which allegedly showed its leaders accepting bribes, as well as the Sarada scam, a ponzy scheme that led to crores of losses.

Exit polls

Three different exit polls predicted wins for the TMC. According to the ABP Ananda poll, the TMC will take 178 seats out of the 295-member Assembly, while the Congress-Left alliance will win 110 seats. Not much is expected of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is expected to win a seat or four at best.

2011 elections

The 2011 elections were the first for the state’s lower house since the Nandigram violence and the Tata Nano-Singur controversy. The TMC-Congress alliance won by a resounding majority of 184 seats. In contrast, the incumbent CPI(M) won just 40 seats. Then Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya lost his Jadavpur seat to the TMC, which was considered a massive setback for the Left Front. The results ended the Left Front’s reign in the state since 1977.