With Mamata Banerjee taking her Trinamool Congress to triumph for a third consecutive term in West Bengal, the BJP set to return in Assam and the LDF creating history in Kerala, the dreaded anti-incumbency factor seemed to go missing in three states on Sunday.
However, the state of Tamil Nadu and Union Territory of Puducherry voted against the incumbents: AIADMK preparing to cede space to the Opposition DMK-led alliance in the former and the AINRC-led NDA headed toward power in the latter.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his congratulations to Banerjee, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and DMK's MK Stalin.
The cynosure of the elections, held over March and April as the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic picked up pace ravaging large parts of the country, was the high-stakes, acrimonious TMC-BJP contest in West Bengal that had dominated headlines, drawing room conversations and political discourse.
It was a victory that had Mamata Banerjee imprinted all over with the TMC winning 204 seats and leading in 9 of the 292-member house — the possible 213 seats comfortably over the winning mark of 147. But Banerjee's triumph was bittersweet as she went down to defeat in an absolute nailbiter in Nandigram.
The tantalising has-she-won-has-she-not game played out for much of the day as votes were counted under strict COVID-19 protocols.
Banerjee conceded defeat to Adhikari, who proved to be a tough competitor and could well emerge one of the party's most powerful leaders.
"I respect the verdict of people of Nandigram, but have got landslide victory in Bengal," Banerjee said.
She added that she would move court against the 'mischief' in Nandigram. The BJP, which worked hard to build inroads in the state and gave it all, was trailing far behind with wins in just 74 seats and lead in 3 others.
It was a long way from the three seats in the last elections for the party, which fielded its top leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, but power in the state proved to be elusive.
The Left parties, which once called the state their bastion, and the Congress were demolished and not even a factor in the eight-phase election. The campaigning was marked by images of Banerjee in a wheelchair with a thick cast on her leg after she was injured during campaigning.
In a brief address to party workers, Banerjee was business-like and sombre. "Tackling COVID-19 is a priority," she said, asking that no grand oath-taking ceremony would be organised and there would be a victory rally in Kolkata only after the pandemic was over.
"It's a victory of Bengal and democracy," she said.
In terms of vote share, the TMC had 47.9 percent of the votes against the BJP's 38.1.
The BJP had reason to smile in Assam where the ruling NDA was ahead of the Congress-led Grand Alliance.
As per the latest results on the Election Commission website, the BJP won 53 seats and is leading in seven others. Its ally, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), won nine seats, while the third constituency of the alliance, the United People's Party Liberal (UPPL), bagged six seats.
On the other hand, the Grand Alliance comprising the Congress, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and eight other parties has won 43 seats so far and is leading in seven others.
In Kerala, the LDF readied for another term, the first time in four decades that the same grouping could form government for the second consecutive time. The LDF won 70 of the 140 seats and is leading in another 29 segments, according to the Election Commission. The UDF has won 32 seats and is leading in nine, while BJP has failed to win any seat.
Among the prominent losers was 'Metroman' E Sreedharan, who had joined the BJP with much fanfare ahead of the elections. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan dedicated the historic victory of the LDF to the people and said it proved there was no room for communal politics in the state.
Vijayan's decades long political acumen came to the fore as a combination of factors contributed to LDF's historic victory, including delivery of a string of populist measures like distribution of free foodgrains and provision kits to all people, better management of the COVID-19 situation by gearing up the public health care system and enhanced and prompt pay out of social security pensions.
"I thank the people of Kerala for reposing faith in an unprecedented manner in the way that the previous LDF government tackled all the challenges that the people have faced and also the pandemic scourge. The government gave a Kerala model to the world on how to handle the pandemic," CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.
In Tamil Nadu, the DMK alone had won or was leading in 133 of the 234 seats, a feather in its president Stalin's cap. Its partner Congress was ahead in 16, while ruling AIADMK was likely to end up with just 69 seats. Both the Dravidian parties went into the election without their stalwarts, J Jayalalithaa for the AIADMK and M Karunanidhi for the DMK.
The AINRC-led NDA looked all set to capture power in Puducherry by winning 13 assembly seatsand leading in two when the results for 22 out of the total 30 segments were declared on Sunday. The Congress-led front emerged victorious in five constituencies and the Independents in four as the counting for votes polled in the 6 April elections, was still underway.
According to the Election Commission, the AINRC secured 10, BJP three, DMK three, Congress two and the I ndependents four. AINRC chief and former Chief Minister N Rangasamy triumphed in Thattanchavady constituency and wrested the seat from DMK.
Rangasamy aspired for annexing two segments, Thattanchavady and Yanam, in the April 6 polls. However, his move to get elected from Yanam seemed to be a far cry to him as the Independent candidate Gollapalli Srinivas Ashok backed by the Congress turned out to be a formidable rival.
The Thattanchavady segment in Puducherry broughtRangasamy cheers as he annexed the seat with a margin of 5,456 votes over his immediate CPI rival K Sethu alias SethuSelvam. A Namassivayam of BJP emerged victorious from Mannadipet constituency after defeating his DMK rival A Krishnan.
Namassivayam, who shifted his allegiance to the saffron party in January after quitting the Congress, contested the 6 April poll from Mannadipet seat as BJP nominee. The former minister polled 14,939 votes while his rival secured 12,189 votes. A green horn in poll battle, U Lakshmikandhan of AINRCwrested the Embalam (reserved) segment from Congress by defeating its candidate and former welfare minister M Kandasamy. Chief Electoral Officer Shurbir Singh said.
Though the Election Commission had banned victory roadshows and vehicle rallies, crowds of jubilant supporters of various parties could be seen celebrating in various places in violation of COVID norms. The drumbeats of victory came in the backdrop of an election which will be remembered for vast, crowded rallies with most people without proper masks: amid the pandemic.
In his monthly radio address, Modi also touched upon the NDA govt's seventh anniversary and said the nation has followed the mantra of 'sabka saath, sabka vikas'
Addressing a press conference on COVID-19 among children, the NITI Aayog said that though the 2019 SARS coronavirus has not taken a serious shape among children till now, its impact can increase if there is a change in virus behaviour
Raut's remarks came days after Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi separately, setting off political speculations in the state