As clear cut trends emerge from the five states that went to the polls, only Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal and J. Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu have managed to buck anti-incumbency. Jayalalithaa has ducked Tamil Nadu’s recent electoral history to become the first chief minister since her mentor MGR in the 1980s to win back-to-back assembly elections in the state; Mamata looks set for a long haul in West Bengal.
The pre-poll seat arrangement between the Left Front and the Congress in West Bengal has failed to help the former whereas it appears to have benefitted the Congress which seems set to retain its base, mainly in the state’s northern region.
The big surprise of the election is from Assam with the BJP on the verge of emerging as the single largest party. The verdict could lead to some post-poll turbulence. The Prafulla Kumar Mahantha led Asom Gana Parishad seems to have done spectacularly well if the trends on the Election Commission website are to be trusted. The AGP, the regional party born out of the Asom movement in the 1980s, is leading in 19 of the 24 seats it contested. Though the BJP has 35 leads so far, the Congress with 15 leads, Ajmal’s AIUDF with 10 and Bodoland People’s Front with nine seats could influence government formation. Assam has 126 seats and 64 is the number needed for a party or a front to claim office. The BJP, AGP and BPF fought the elections in alliance, but the polarised nature of the electorate could trigger unexpected changes.
In Kerala, the Left Front is clearly ahead but the BJP may, for the first time in the state’s history, gain an MLA. O. Rajagopal, the senior BJP leader, whose popularity extends beyond the party’s base, seems finally set for an election win in the state. He has established a lead of over 8,000 votes. At least five UDF ministers were trailing whereas all top Left candidates have gained comfortable leads.
Tamil Nadu, besides endorsing Amma, has also indicated that it remains a two front state. The People’s Welfare Front of Vijayakanth’s DMDK, Vaiko’s MDMK, the communists, and the Dalit outfit, VCK, have failed to impress the electorate. The PMK, which went it alone, seems to be the only party to have held on to its base which, in any case is restricted to a handful of districts in northern Tamil Nadu.