West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday led the Trinamool Congress to a spectacular victory by defeating the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Assembly elections that were held in a record-eight phase despite the raging coronavirus pandemic. By 12.20 am on Monday, the Trinamool Congress was leading in 213 of Bengal’s 294 seats and the saffron party appeared set to finish below the 100-mark.
The results for Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry have also been trickling in since 8 am.
Anti-incumbency took a beating in West Bengal, Assam and Kerala. In Tamil Nadu, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led alliance was leading in over 150 seats and party chief MK Stalin is all set to become the chief minister for the first time. In Puducherry, the All India NR Congress-led National Democratic Alliance beat the Congress and the DMK.
In Kerala, the Left Democratic Front retained power and created history by becoming the first government to beat incumbency.
In Assam, the BJP will form government again and the alliance led by All India NR Congress will assume power in Puducherry.
Banerjee will return as a chief minister for the third consecutive term in West Bengal. “It is the victory of the people of Bengal, the victory of democracy,” the 66-year-old leader said in Kolkata. “Bengal has saved India today. This landslide victory came after fighting against several odds – the Centre, its machinery, its agencies. This victory has saved the humanity.”
Banerjee, however, lost from Nandigram against her former close aide and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari by a margin of 1,956 votes. The Trinamool Congress has contested the results and demanded a recounting of votes. Banerjee alleged “looting and cheating” in the counting process, but the Election Commission rejected the appeal to recount votes.
In terms of vote share, the Trinamool Congress secured 48.3% of the votes against the BJP’s 38.1%, according to data by the poll panel. The saffron party’s vote share in the state dropped by less than 2% compared to the 2019 general elections.
The Left parties, which once called the state their bastion, and the Congress were decimated in the results.
The results are a huge setback to the BJP, which had made a serious bid for a victory. The party had used all its resources for a high-voltage campaign. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other senior BJP leaders campaigned vigorously via several public meetings and road shows.
Opposition leaders exulted in the Trinamool Congress’s victory. Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said this shows that Modi and Shah were “not invincible”.
In Tamil Nadu, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam led by party chief MK Stalin was elected to power after a gap of 10 years. The Secular Progressive Alliance led by it either won or established leads in 156 seats in the 234-member House. The majority mark is 118.
This was the first time that elections were conducted in the state without the presence of two stalwarts – M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa.
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam under outgoing Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami fought decently. It was leading in 58 seats and had won 11, while the BJP was ahead in just four constituencies by the end of the day. The Pattali Makkal Katchi was ahead in five seats.
Actor Kamal Haasan, who made his electoral debut in the elections, lost the Coimbatore (South) constituency by a small margin of votes. His party Makkal Needhi Maiam drew a blank in its first state elections as trends showed that none of the outfit’s other candidates were in a position to win a seat.
The DMK’s vote share increased by 5% to nearly 38% from 32.76% in the 2019 general elections. AIADMK, which faced a drubbing in the 2019 elections and won a single Lok Sabha seat, saw a jump in vote share from 18.4% to 33.48%.
The alliance led by All India NR Congress-led National Democratic Alliance will assume power in Puducherry. The majority mark in the Puducherry Assembly is 16. The Union Territory had voted in a single phase on April 6.
The All India NR Congress had won 10 of the seats. The party’s ally BJP bagged six seats, while the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the other party in the alliance, did not win any seat.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam won six seats, while the Congress won two seats. Meanwhile, six Independent candidates had also won.
In Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was able to break the jinx of rotating power between the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front and the Congress-led United Democratic Front in the state for the last 44 years.
Vijayan attributed the victory of the Left Democratic Front in the Assembly polls to the residents of the state. His party had effectively tackled the pandemic, floods and other viral diseases during his tenure in the last five years.
The CPI(M) got 25.1% votes, almost the same as its vote share in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, while that of Congress slumped by almost 13% to 24.8 from 37.46%.
BJP candidate Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, dubbed as the “metro man”, lost to Congress leader Shafi Parambil in Palakkad constituency of Kerala by a margin of 3,859 votes.
The BJP-led coalition will return to Assam for a second term with a clear majority in the Assembly. Though counting is still underway in Assam, trends for all 126 seats are now in. The majority mark in the Assam Assembly is 64.
Among the Opposition parties, the Congress had won five seats and was ahead in 25. Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front was leading in 14, while Bodoland Peoples Front was ahead in two seats and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was leading in one seat.
Despite the majority, the saffron party’s vote share declined by 4% to 32% from 36% in 2019 Assembly polls.