Elections 2021

Mamata trumps BJP; DMK captures TN

Poornima Joshi New Delhi | Updated on May 03, 2021

Celebration time for DMK supremo MK Stalin   -  The Hindu

LDF storms back in Kerala; Mamata loses in Nandigram

Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee emerged the giant slayer of the Assembly Elections-2021, worsting a resurgent BJP in the fiercest poll battle amid a raging Covid-19 pandemic. She declared a “movement against Covid-19” in her sombre victory address immediately afterwards as the Sunday results also heralded the emergence of MK Stalin as the tallest leader in Tamil Nadu and the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) became the first incumbent government in four decades to be returned to power in Kerala. The Congress lost out spectacularly, failing to win a single seat in Bengal, losing the sole State it had in Puducherry to the BJP-led coalition and crumbling in the face of a formidable performance by the BJP in Assam.

 

Predictable lines

The poll results in Tamil Nadu and Kerala were mostly on predictable lines — given the DMK’s organised campaign and Stalin’s assured leadership in the face of rampant factionalism and absence of J Jayalalithaa’s towering figure, and Pinarayi Vijayan’s stellar handling of the Covid-19 crisis in Kerala. What stole the show was the spectacular performance of Mamata’s All India Trinamool Congress in West Bengal which could not be captured by any of the exit polls or surveys.

Till results last came in, the Trinamool Congress was set to win a staggering 217 seats in the 292-member Assembly whereas the BJP led in 73 seats with a vote share of about 38 per cent down from the impressive 40.7 per cent it garnered two years back when it won 18 Lok Sabha seats in the State. Trinamool’s vote share was approximately 47.98 per cent, showing a 10 percentage point lead over the BJP. The Left and the Congress failed to win a single seat, clearly showing the bipolarity of the contest in Bengal.

In the midst of the TMC’s upsurge was the cliff-hanger of a contest in Mamata’s own constituency of Nandigram, the site of her ascendence to power which she fought against her once-trusted lieutenant and local strongman Suvendu Adhikari, who had defected to the BJP. The Nandigram contest was a study in electoral upheavals, with Mamata herself almost conceding defeat. “Nandigram does not matter anymore,” she said while announcing that her next fight is against the pandemic and free vaccination for all.

“There should be free vaccination for the 138 crore people of India. It costs ₹30,000 crore; it is not at all an issue for the Centre,” she said. But the battle raged on in Nandigram with Suvendu Adhikari releasing different figures while the Election Commission tally at 9 pm showed a neck-to-neck contest. Mamata was ahead at the last count at 84,004 votes and 48.25 per cent of the vote share while Suvendu Adhikari was 1,453 votes behind at 82,551 votes with 47.42 per cent vote share.

After a lot of upheaval in Nandigram, the final tally declared by the EC showed a defeat for Mamata Banerjee. Her rival Suvendu Adhikari had polled 110, 764 votes, 1956 votes more than 108,808 polled by Mamata.

The TMC has written to the EC demanding a recount.In a letter to the EC, the TMC said certain “preposterous and illegal incidents” have happened today while counting of votes was taking place .

DMK vote share

In Tamil Nadu, Stalin was set to be the next Chief Minister, but the DMK’s victory was not a landslide as predicted by the exit polls. The DMK’s vote share was, till 9.15 pm, 37.57 per cent with 124 seats in the 234-member Assembly. The AIADMK had secured 33.77 per cent vote share and 74 seats, showing a closer contest than predicted. Together with the Congress, the Left parties and the VCK, the DMK alliance was inching towards a comfortable majority in the Assembly with a seat projection of 148. The Left, which was routed in West Bengal drawing a blank in the State it had ruled for 34 years, had reason to smile in Kerala where the coalition led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was set to secure close to 93 seats in the 140-member Assembly.

“This mandate is an acknowledgement of the manner in which the State was governed through the various crises in the past few years,” said the victorious Chief Minister, who has steered Kerala through a series of crises including the Nipah virus scare and the Ockhi cyclone of 2017; the Great Floods of 2018 variously described as the worst of the century and a near-encore in 2019; and the outbreak of Covid-19 that torments the State even after one and half years, and their combined impact on the economy.

The BJP cut a sorry figure in Kerala, forfeiting the lone seat of Nemom it had won through senior leader O Rajagopal in 2016. Former State BJP President and Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan, who contested this time round failed to sustain the early lead and ended up second after the victorious LDF candidate. Current BJP President K Surendran lost both from Manjeswar and Konni while Metroman E Sreedharan failed to sustain early momentum in Palakkad. The party drew a blank this time with its vote share falling to 11.56 per cent from 14.96 per cent in the 2016 Assembly polls and which had gone up to 15.64 per cent in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress-led UDF suffered major reverses with a leader of the stature of former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy struggling in his pocket-borough Puthuppalli. In Assam, the Sarbananda Sonowal Government was set to get a second term with a major lead over the Congress-AIUDF combine. The BJP-led ruling coalition was leading in almost 80 seats at the time of going to the press while the Congress alliance was way behind at 42 seats.

 

Published on May 02, 2021

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