The day belonged to regional leaders, who saw their parties to victory in Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Puducherry.
As Assembly elections results were declared for four states and the Union Territory of Puducherry on Sunday, the day clearly belonged to regional satraps, with Mamata Banerjee, Pinarayi Vijayan and MK Stalin emerging the dominant players in West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu respectively. In Assam, sitting Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Himanta Biswa Sarma managed to see the BJP alliance to a comfortable majority.
The most fiercely fought and keenly watched contest this time was in West Bengal, where the BJP put up an aggressive challenge against the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC government. The TMC managed to trounce the national party convincingly, leading in more than 200 of the 292 seats as per the latest available figures.
However, what may dim the victory’s sheen for the party is Mamata possibly losing in Nandigram, where she had contested from this time to take on protegee-turned-rebel Suvendu Adhikari in his bastion. While final verification of the seat’s voting figures is still on, the TMC has hinted going to court over the result.
The Kerala election results came as a clear vote of confidence for incumbent Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, whose alliance LDF managed to trump a four-decade trend of revolving door politics in the state to retain power. The Congress campaign had been spearheaded by Rahul Gandhi, MP from Wayanad, but the Vijayan camp sailed to a smooth win, with many of its leaders, including Vijayan and sitting health minister Shailaja Teacher, securing huge victory margins. The BJP, despite a noisy campaign, lost the only seat, Nemom, it held in the state.
Tamil Nadu is the only state where the Congress tasted success, as part of the winning DMK alliance. As per the latest EC figures, the DMK was leading in 123 of the total 234 seats, with the Congress leading in 16. The ruling AIADMK was trailing with leads in 76 seats. The Tamil Nadu election this time was remarkable, fought in the absence of the towering figures of J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi. Among the new crop of leaders, Stalin for now has won the trust of the voters.
In the 126 seats of Assam, the BJP, as per the latest reports, was leading in 37 seats and had won 22, which, with its allies, would comfortably see it past the halfway mark. The Congress was leading in 23 seats and had won seven. Activist Akhil Gogoi won from Sibsagar. The win, however, will bring its own dilemma for the BJP – who among its two tall leaders, Sarma and Sonowal, gets the CM chair. While Sonowal has managed to beat anti-incumbency in a term that saw the Covid pandemic and massive protests against the CAA-NRC, Sarma has also emerged as the face of the BJP in the last few years. His management of the Covid-19 situation and his leadership as the finance minister helped the BJP secure a clear lead. So far, the party has carefully avoided naming a CM pick.
In the 30 seats of Puducherry, the NDA could be heading towards a majority, with the BJP winning five seats and ally AINRC winning 10 seats. In the Opposition camp, the Congress has won two seats and the DMK has secured six. Puducherry’s Congress government had collapsed thanks to defections weeks ahead of the scheduled Assembly polls.
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