West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress and Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK seem set to retain power on Thursday as the BJP is on the road to victory in Assam and the Left appears to be making a comeback in Kerala.
As the early trends on the counting day came in, the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC surged ahead of the Left-Congress alliance in West Bengal; the BJP-led coalition emerged on top in Assam, while the AIADMK and LDF led their rivals in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, respectively.
As evident from the morning's figures, LDF was ahead in 92 seats as compared to 45 for the UDF in the Assembly which has a total of 140 seats. In the 294-seat West Bengal Assembly, the TMC led with 208 seats against the Left's 75.
In the 234-seat Tamil Nadu Assembly, the AIADMK led with 134 seats against the DMK's 93; in the 126-seat Assam Assembly, the BJP led with 82 seats, with Congress bagging 24, according to CNN-News18.
In Kerala, CPM veteran and former chief minister VS Achuthanandan called the election a wave in favour of the Left Democratic Front (LDF). "This is a vote against the corrupt and those who failed to protect the dignity of women," said an elated Achuthanandan, who is eyeing a second term as chief minister.
In contrast, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy looked gloomy, although he himself was on the winning track in the Puthupally constituency. On the day of counting, Chandy appeared confident that the UDF would somehow retain power, beating back a strong challenge from the Left led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
The UDF suffered huge setbacks in districts like Kollam and Thrissur, besides Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram.
Former central minister and BJP veteran O Rajagopal maintained his lead in Nemom constituency in the capital district. If he wins, he will be the first BJP member to enter the Kerala assembly.
At least five state ministers trailed in the poll race. Apart from Achuthanandan, his party colleague Pinarayi Vijayan, who is also a chief ministerial hopeful, was also leading. A total of 1,203 contestants were in the fray. Most exit polls had predicted a Left victory.
CPM politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan led by over 24,000 votes in Dharmadam, while Marxist veteran V S Achuthanandan has established a lead of over 10,000 votes over his nearest rival over C Krishnakumar of the NDA in Malampuzha.
Former Finance Minister KM Mani and K Babu led by small margins.
BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan, cricketer S Sreesanth and former BJP State president V Muraleedharan were all trailing.
V Joy of the CPM won by 2,386 votes against sitting MLA Varkala Kahar of Congress in Varkala. Sitting MLA G S Jayalal (CPI-LDF) won by 34,407 votes against his BJP rival BB Gopakumar at Chattanoor.
In Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK proved most exit polls wrong as it appeared on course to retaining power. As an AIADMK win appeared certain, boisterous celebrations erupted outside the residence of party leader and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in Chennai.
If the AIADMK wins the election, it will be the first time since 1984 that a political front won two elections consecutively in the state.
At the same time, although the ruling AIADMK was on the road to victory, it seemed set to lose most seats in Chennai, which was battered by floods last year.
Jayalalithaa, however, led in her Radhakrishnan Nagar constituency in the city. Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated her on her victory.
Chennai, badly hit by floods in December, seems to have overwhelmingly voted against the ruling party. The DMK had in its election campaign raised the issue of the havoc caused by the floods.
The drubbing that the alternative front received in Tamil Nadu will be a major setback for leaders like Vijayakanth, Vaiko and GK Vasan, who promised a "wave of change" in the southern state this election. It's a long road ahead for the Left Front to make a mark in Tamil Nadu, which has seen the political dominance of the AIADMK and the DMK.
CM candidate Vijayakanth could not secure a win even in his own constituency in Ullundurpet. The civil society in Chennai, which was vociferously supporting the emerging alternative front, has fallen silent too. This might be a sign that it will be years before a true Third Front can emerge in Tamil Nadu, writes Firstpost's Devparna Acharya.
On expected lines, the Trinamool Congress was sweeping the election in West Bengal, as officials counted the millions of votes polled in the assembly elections, which were held in six phases.
The Left and the Congress were at a distant second spot while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lagged behind.
Mamata Banerjee once again proved a master strategist decimating the new Left-Congress combination and the BJP, all of whom sought to prevent her return to power.
The 61-year-old feisty leader, who had single-handedly ended 34 years of Communist rule in West Bengal in 2011, was unfazed by the coming together of Left parties and the Congress ahead of the Assembly polls.
They also faced an all-out attack by the BJP which fielded top party stalwarts led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah in campaigning. A battery of Union Ministers and state leaders also urged people to vote for the saffron party, but to no avail.
Among the prominent Trinamool leaders on the road to victory was Finance Minister Amit Mitra from Khardaha.
CPM state secretary Surya Kanta Mishra led in his constituency Narayangarh, while Congress' Manas Bhunia was ahead in Sabang.
Among celebrity candidates, Trinamool Congress' Laxmi Ratan Shukla (Howrah North) and Baishali Dalmiya (Bally) were in the lead.
The BJP was on the road to victory in Assam for the first time. Its alliance candidates led in 82 constituencies, followed by the Congress in 24 seats. The AIUDF led in 11 places. Assam has a 126-member legislature.
In New Delhi, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra told IANS: "It is historic. We are going to make an entry in Assam."
In her first ever poll battle, Angkita Dutta, daughter of Assam Congress president Anjan Dutta has lost to Pradip Hazarika from the Asom Gana Parishad. Anjan Dutta had won the seat in the last election. Angkita was brought into the fray as her father was a star campaigner for the party. The thought process was that the state Congress president would be busy crisscrossing the state on the campaign trail. Angkita's campaign was also backed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi who addressed a rally in Amguri. Former Bollywood star and Congress leader Raj Babbar had campaigned for her as well.
BJP candidate Kushal Dowari beat incumbent Congress MLA Sushanta Borgohain by a margin of 932 votes in a close contest in Thowra constituency. Located in the state's Sivasagar district, Thowra has always remained a Congress stronghold with a strong presence of the tea community. This is the BJP's first win in the seat.
Authorities counted the millions of votes cast in the assembly elections in 51 centres.
The swearing-in ceremony in Assam will take place on 25 May.
The DMK-Congress alliance and the All India NR Congress were in close contest in Puducherry, leading in 15 and 10 constituencies respectively. The Union territory has a 30-member Assembly.
Published Date: May 19, 2016 12:26 PM | Updated Date: May 19, 2016 13:20 PM