NEW DELHI (TIP): The lotus bloomed in Assam for the first time as the BJP stormed to power, trouncing a 15-year-old Congress government on May 19 (Thursday) and two women chief ministers – Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal and J Jayalalithaa of Tamil Nadu – overcame anti-incumbency to register impressive victories.
The Congress’ electoral downslide continued as its scandal-tainted coalition government lost to the Left in Kerala. The party which has lost six state elections since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, however, picked up a consolation prize of sorts in Puducherry by defeating the regional All India NR Congress (AINRC). Broadly speaking, across five states, the Congress is looking to be a big loser, the BJP looks set to be a big gainer and the Left appears it will be left about even.
Mamata Banerjee’s TMC sweeped West Bengal despite being closely associated with two big corruption scandals, the Narada and the Sarada scams. The TMC has won 177 seats of the 294 Assembly seats in West Bengal. Including those wins, the TMC is leading in 212 seats. The Left’s alliance with the Congress was seen for what it exactly was – opportunism. The alliance has won a mere 60 seats and is ahead in 13, which puts it ahead in a paltry 73 seats.
The Left-Congress combine’s projected chief minister Surjya Kant Mishra has actually lost his Narayangarh seat for the first time since 1991. Mishra was seen as one of the architects of the Congress-CPM alliance. The Left’s loss was the BJP’s gain. It has actually won 3 seats here and is ahead in 2 – in 2011 it didn’t win a single seat. Its vote share has actually gone up to 10% from 4% in the 2011 Assembly polls.
Tamil Nadu: A vote against nepotism
As for J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK, it didn’t just buck incumbency, it made history by being the first party since 1984 to win two consecutive terms in Tamil Nadu. The AIADMK has won 92 seats and is ahead in 40 seats, giving it an unassailable lead of 132 seats. The DMK won 67 seats and was leading in 32 seats, putting it ahead in 99 seats.
Jayalalithaa decided to go it alone while the DMK tied up with the Congress. In the end, though, the people of Tamil Nadu showed decisively how fed up they are of opportunism and more so, that that they’ve had just about enough of DMK supremo K Karunanidhi and his nepotism toward his large extended family.
Assam: A vote against arrogance
Assam threw out the three-term Congress government giving way to the BJP, that’s set to emerge a clear winner. This result can hardly be called anti-incumbency considering the BJP -registering its first footprint in the Northeast – has won in 67 seats and is ahead in 18 seats, thus putting it ahead in a whopping 84 of 126 seats. Consider this – in the last Assam Assembly elections, the BJP and its allies won just 27 seats.
The BJP’s decision to field Sarabananda Sonowal as the chief ministerial candidate marked a big strategic shift for the party. The BJP has come to believe it lost last November’s Assembly elections in Bihar because it ignored strong local leaders. Its gambit worked. The three-time Congress CM Tarun Gogoi paid a price for his arrogance and his nepotism lost him a major ally, Himanta Biswa Sarna. When Gogoi introduced his son Gaurav to politics he alienated a big section of the Congress unit in Assam.
Kerala: A Left Surge
Kerala was, in fact, the only state where corruption and anti-incumbency played a role. The opposition CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) won a cool 85 of 140 seats leaving the corruption-tainted incumbent, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) eating humble pie with a mere 46 seats.
The BJP, here, got its first seat ever, O Rajagopal, the first BJP MLA in Kerala. The UDF was plagued by the bar bribery scam, the solar scam and an alleged sex scandal. It gave several tarnished candidates tickets in the election and is beset with factionalism. As well, despite what people within the CPM might think, VS Achuthanandan remains a huge draw.
Puducherry: Consolation Prize for Cong, DMK
And last but not least, in tiny Puducherry, the final results showed the Congress-DMK alliance winning the day, beating the incumbent All India NR Congress (AINRC). You could say this was a consolation prize for the Congress and the DMK – the latter having lost in Tamil Nadu and the Congress having been convincingly thrown out of Assam.
This time around, the pollsters didn’t have to hang their heads in shame like they had to after the Bihar assembly elections last November. The results of the five states’ Assembly polls were largely in line with Monday’s exit polls.