New Delhi: Winning Assam despite the resentment stoked by the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) served as a consolation for the BJP on a day its plans to win West Bengal were dashed by Mamata Banerjee’s hat-trick in the state.
The 2021 assembly election results, announced Sunday, also served as a dampener for the BJP’s big southern push.
In Tamil Nadu, the BJP and its ally All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) tasted defeat. While the AIADMK was looking to score a third consecutive term, it was defeated by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), a Congress ally.
In Kerala, meanwhile, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan led the Left Democratic Front (LDF) coalition to a second consecutive term, marking the first time in 40 years that the state has voted an incumbent government back to office. The BJP contested 115 of the state’s 140 seats but failed to win even one.
Puducherry, which saw its Congress-DMK government ousted on the threshold of polls, has given a lead to an alliance comprising the BJP, the AIADMK, and the NR Congress.
The 2021 assembly election season was a super-charged affair that was dogged by controversy from the get-go, primarily on account of the massive political rallies convened by parties amid the raging pandemic.
In Bengal, which emerged as the centrepiece of the election season because of the BJP’s aggressive campaign in the state to unseat Mamata, the battle will continue in the coming days.
According to results at 7.40 pm, Trinamool had won 36 seats and was leading in 177 — a total of 213 — of the state’s 294 assembly seats, with the BJP winning seven and leading in 70. The latter had won three seats in 2016.
In the 2016 election, the AIADMK won 136 of the state’s 234 assembly seats, while the DMK secured 98. As of 7.40 pm Sunday, the MK Stalin-led DMK was ahead in 123 and had won two, while the AIADMK was leading in 75 and had scored two. The BJP, which contested 20 seats, had won three.
This election was significant because it saw both the state’s leading parties enter the fray without their most prominent leaders — former CMs Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi of the AIADMK and the DMK, respectively. While Jayalalithaa died in 2016, Karunanidhi passed away in 2018.
The BJP’s win in Assam in 2016 was the party’s first in the northeast and marked a big breakthrough for it. Its win this year is crucial as the party faced much backlash from indigenous communities on account of the CAA, which seeks to ease citizenship for six minorities from Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and goes against the spirit of the local residents’ protests against illegal immigration.
The BJP manifesto in Assam didn’t mention the CAA, while the one in Bengal did.
The BJP’s decision to dump the Bodoland People’s Front and going ahead with the UPPL seems to have worked in its favour. At the time of publishing, the BJP had won eight and was leading in 52 of Assam’s 126 seats.
In Puducherry, the Congress is set to lose with the trends giving the AIADMK-BJP-All India N.R. Congress alliance a comfortable lead. The elections had assumed wider significance in the backdrop of the Congress-DMK government’s ouster in March after a series of resignations from the two parties.
President’s Rule was subsequently imposed in the union territory.
The BJP, which had three nominated MLAs in the outgoing assembly but no elected ones, has managed to piggyback on its allies to carve a niche here. As of 7.40 pm, it had won three of Puducherry’s 25 seats and was leading in one. Ally All India N.R. Congress had won nine and was leading in one. AIADMK had won none.
In Kerala, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which leads the LDF, had won 36 of the state’s 140 seats and was leading in 26, as of 7.40 pm. ‘Metro Man’ E. Sreedharan, representing the BJP, was trailing the Congress’ Shafi Parambil by around 4,000 votes.
The BJP, which contested 115 seats, got a vote share of 11.5 per cent but won no seat. It had won one in 2016 — its first ever in the state.
Polling in West Bengal began on 27 March and came to a close on 29 April, with its duration and distribution into eight phases causing much controversy.
Assam had a three-phase election, while Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry had single-phase polls.
With each passing day, the political battle in Bengal became fiercer and uglier with frequent reports of killings and clashes. The TMC had attacked the BJP for not declaring a CM face. To counter this, the BJP focused on highlighting the work done by the central government under PM Narendra Modi and kept the focus of the campaign on him and Shah.
Pitted against the BJP, which has been making steady inroads in the state since 2016, the ruling TMC announced a number of welfare measures to woo voters. The popularity of CM Mamata Banerjee, welfare measures announced by her government and the lack of a clear BJP CM nominee seemed to have helped the party win the elections.
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)
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