A spectacular victory for Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal must have come as a crushing defeat for the nationally majoritarian BJP, given its targeted capture of this eastern behemoth, in its planned march to “One Nation”.
Now, leading TMC for its consecutive third term since 2011,in a landslide win, overcoming deserters to BJP, Mamata Banerjee, widely lauded in the country, is seen in political circles for national role and dominance in the ideological struggles ahead, come UP in 2022 or the Lok Sabha in 2024.
For all the forces and political might thrown into the poll battle in West Bengal by the ruling BJP at the Centre, in the midst of a catastrophic phase ofcoronovirus, the outcome is certainly a serious setback to the Modi Government. But the BJP had at least gained some seventy and odd seats to remain the sole opposition to the TMC’s third term regime under Mamata Banerjee.
The causes for the current virulent phase of the pandemic in India and the lack of medical infrastructure, rated abroad as the biggest human crisis in more than a century and a sum total of failures on the administrative side, are under serious national inquisition. The world has readily responded rushing medical supplies to India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has gracefully congratulated the “Didi” of West Bengal, taking the worst defeat for his party in stride, and other opposition winners for their States, Kerala’s Pinarayi Vijayan and Tamil Nadu’s DMK leader M K Stalin. Vijayan scored a second consecutive term for the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) for the first time, in four decades, without yielding to Congress-led (UDF).LDF led with 99 seats in the 140-member Kerala Assembly and UDF 41 seats while BJP on a full-scale battle, drew a blank.Not even the Metro Man, a celebrity candidate of BJP, could get through.
India’s premier national party, the Congress, suffered losses all over – Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and the Union Territory of Puducherry, a new gain for BJP which also retains Assam, a traditional Congress hold. The Congress did make good, winning 17 of the 25 seats contested as part of DMK-led Alliance in Tamil Nadu. It also retained the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat.
The Congress led by Sonia Gandhi keeps up a national posturing and effectively taking the Modi Government to task on very many policies and its failures on the ground in relation to all its global claims. But the party has lately shown up internal cracks and failed so far to hold organisational elections and frame a credible and winning strategy to regain confidence of other parties. Rahul Gandhi remains a lone fighter and gets headlines.
The April elections have thrown new winds on the political horizon. These have shown up the sway of regional leaders who are all for progressive secularism and against polarisation and exclusion. Political analysts have already called for a consolidation of these trends and expect leaders of Tamil Nadu (DMK), Kerala (LDF) and West Bengal (TMC) to work together for future development furthering progressive models they have sought to achieve including welfarism.
The Tamil Nadu Assembly elections took place after the loss of Dravidian giants, who dominated the Dravidian politics of the State, M. Karunanidhi (DMK) and Jayalalithaa (AIADMK). The former in his last days passed the mantle to his second son M K Stalin by 2016 and the DMK returns to power after a decade of two losses. Stalin, with a decisive mandate now, was confident of DMK victory becoming one for Tamil Nadu in many respects. Stalin had set out several national issues in the party manifesto before the elections. DMK itself won 130 seats, gaining absolute majority in the 234-member House, followed by Congress 17 and other allies taking the total to 160.
The outgoing AIADMK, led by Edappadi Palaniswamy, put up a tough fight in many areas on the strength of its performance, notwithstanding anti-incumbency factor to an extent as it sought a third term. Palaniswamy and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam won but quite a few other ministers lost. BJP with which AIADMK aligned gained 4 seats to register their presence in the Assembly after a decade while the older ally PMK won 5 seats to take the AIADMK alliance total to 74.
In Puducherry, the Congress-DMK alliance lost to AINRC (NDA) led by N Rangasamy who would become CM.
BJP’s solid success was in Assam where the Congress had hoped to retrieve power after five years. NDA secured 73 seats against UPA’s 52 but gaining a higher percentage of votes overall.
The cinestar-turned-politician Kamal Hassan, with a well-organised party for the third front, advocating several positive ideas in his manifesto, took the lead in Coimbatore South constituency over Congress but in a close race lost to Vanathi Srinivasan, BJP.