Results sans surprises
There is less of surprise in this round of assembly polls to four states and a Union Territory. The BJP and its allies retained power in Assam, the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and the Left in Kerala while the DMK-led alliance wrested power from AIADMK in Tamil Nadu and the NDA won Puducherry. For those that expected a win for the BJP in West Bengal, this is time for a huge disappointment. The feisty chief minister Mamata Banerjee has managed to whip up sentiments in her favour also by way of a regionalistic approach and projecting “leaders from Delhi” as marauders – a strategy that worked well with the Bengali mind. The BJP however rose from the level of a non-entity five years ago to being the principal Opposition in the state. The pro-BJP trend was more visible in the last Lok Sabha polls in a sign that people preferred Narendra Modi as PM. A big question mark remains on the CM’s status in Nandigram as conflicting reports came in – one saying that she won by 1,200 votes and other hints projecting her defeat. At the time of writing this editorial the last word from the Election Commission is yet to be heard. Meanwhile, Banerjee has said she would move court in ways that would enable her form the next government. She can be trusted not to leave such matters without a fight.
In Assam, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, opinion surveys and exit polls had made it amply clear as to what was in store. It was a foregone conclusion the BJP will retain power in Assam and DMK will drive out the AIADMK from supremacy in TN. In Puducherry, the NDA captured power as was also predicted in opinion polls. The Kerala poll results however have bucked the trend with Pinayari Vijayan’s LDF retaining power in the state. This also shows that the Left still has some relevance at least in the nation’s periphery down south but this has nothing to do with ideology. The credit goes to the policies and programmes of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. He led the campaign single-handedly. The victory for the LDF this time changed the usual trend in the state of the two rival political formations – the UDF and the LDF – alternating in power every five years. The progressive erosion of the strength of the Congress party spelt doom for the Congress-led UDF in Kerala. In Assam too, even as it got a powerful regional party (king-maker) to its side, the Congress lost. The extensive campaign by Priyanka Gandhi there might have partly helped the Congress alliance win a decent number of seats in Assam.