New Delhi, May 19 (IANS) West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress on Thursday crushed the opposition and Tamil Nadu’s AIADMK proved exit polls wrong by retaining power in assembly elections, the biggest popularity test after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP stormed to power in Assam while the Left made a comeback in Kerala amid a washout in West Bengal.
The Congress was the worst hit in the five-state election, losing power both in Assam, which it had ruled for 15 long years, and Kerala, where it had been confident of winning a second term.
The only consolation was in Puducherry, where the Congress-DMK alliance was poised to form the government.
The Bharatiya Janata Party also made history in Kerala where its veteran O. Rajagopal, 86, was elected from Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram. He will be the first ever BJP member in the Kerala assembly.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Tamil Nadu counterpart J. Jayalalithaa.
“Across India, people are placing their faith in (the) BJP and see it as the party that can usher in all-round and inclusive development,” he tweeted.
Riding on the development plank, Banerjee led the Trinamool to a landslide win. The Trinamool is set to finish with 212 seats — substantially more than the two-thirds majority mark of 196, and the 184 seats it had bagged in 2011 when it came to power in alliance with the Congress.
The Congress-Left combine, which had hoped to unseat Banerjee, finished well below the three-digit mark. The alliance candidates had won or were ahead in just 77 seats. The Congress was doing better than the Left by winning or leading in 44 constituencies. Left candidates were in the first position in 32. An independent backed by the alliance also won.
As Trinamool supporters celebrated wildly, Banerjee said a campaign of slander and lies led to her party’s sweeping win. “People do not like such campaigns. There were all sorts of alliances against us. But people have ultimately made their choice.
“This is for the first time in 49 years that such a massive mandate has been given to a single party,” said Banerjee, whose party hopes to win a whopping 212 seats.
Tamil Nadu produced a spectacular result. The AIADMK AIADMK cruised to victory in 134 of the 232 assembly seats, leaving the DMK-Congress combine with 97 seats. Almost all other parties were wiped out.
An elated Jayalalithaa said: “There are not enough words in dictionary to adequately express my feelings of gratitude to the people of Tamil Nadu.”
Most exit polls had predicted that the AIADMK would be unseated.
There were noisy celebrations outside Jayalalithaa’s residence in Chennai. Holding her portraits, supporters danced to music and burst firecrackers.
But Chennai, battered by floods in December, dumped the AIADMK. However, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa retained her Radhakrishnan Nagar constitutency trouncing her nearest DMK rival by a large margin.
In a much-awaited victory, the BJP was poised to form its first government in the northeast, trouncing the Congress in Assam. The BJP-led alliance is set to get over 85 seats in the 126-member house.
The stunning performance buried the Congress, which could win only 26 seats. The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), which had hoped to play the kingmaker if there was a hung verdict, winning 13 seats.
A beaming Sarbananda Sonowal, who will be Assam’s chief minister, said that sealing the winding India-Bangladesh border to end infiltration would be his government’s major challenge.
Three-time chief minister Tarun Gogoi accepted defeat and said the Congress would play the role of a constructive opposition.
Keeping alive Kerala’s tradition of ousting the government in every election, the Congress-led UDF suffered a stunning rout, which its leader and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said he had never expected.
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) won 91 of the 140 seats, with the CPI-M itself grabbing 58. In contrast, the entire UDF tally was 47.
“This is a vote against the corrupt and those who failed to protect the dignity of women,” said CPI-M leader and former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan.
An independent was also on the winning track.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi said the party accepts the verdict of the people and it will introspect into the reasons behind its poor showing.
“The Indian National Congress accepts the verdict of the people of Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala with utmost humility,” Gandhi said in a statement released here.
An apparently shattered Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said the party will work “harder” to gain the trust of the people.
In Puducherry, the Congress-DMK combine is set to form the next government. While the major partner Congress won 15 seats, its ally DMK won two seats.
The ruling All India N.R. Congress (AINRC) won eight seats and the AIADMK grabbed four. An independent candidate was also elected.