Kolkata: The big trend emerging out of the election results from the four states and one Union Territory in India until after four hours of counting on Sunday shows the ruling parties and blocs of Trinamool Congres (TMC), Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) set to retain power in West Bengal, Kerala and Asssam, respectively. In Tamil Nadu, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is set to storm back to power with a massive majority, while in the Unioin Territory of Puducherry, the BJP-led NRC alliance is ahead of the Congress-led bloc.
As the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC looks set to retain power in Bengal for a third consecutive term, the other fascinating story about these elections is the way the Pinyarai Vijayan-led LDF is all set to be voted back in power for one more term in Kerala, bucking anti-incumbency in a state that has traditionally voted in a new party every five years for the last several decades.
Until trends last came in, TMC was set to win 208 seats in Bengal, LDF was on course to win 89 seats, while in Assam BJP was heading towards a tally of 81 seats. In Tamil Nadu, M.K. Stalin-led DMK was set to win 132 seats and in Puducherry, BJP-led NRC was on course to win 11 seats.
But Bengal has undoubtedly been the story of these state elections -- a state that has seen a very intense turf-war between TMC and BJP in the run-up to these elections. Even the exit polls on the last day of an eight-phase election had indicated that the results in Bengal could make way for a cliff-hanger, with TMC holding a slight edge over BJP.
However, in reality, the people of Bengal have once again reposed their faith in Chief Minister Mamata and the ruling TMC, though, quite interestingly, until five rounds of counting in the prestigious Nandigram seat, Mamata herself was trailing BJP candiadte and her one-time political aide and confidante Suvendu Adhikai. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that given a choice between losing in Nandigam and retaining Bengal, Mamata certainly won't mind earning a third straight stint at power even at the cost of losing a prestige fight in just one seat.
What really helped tilt the balance so decisively in TMC's favour is Bengal is the fact that the minority voters have voted en-bloc, enmasse in favour of TMC. This hugely tactical voting in a state where the minority Muslim community comprises 26 per cent of voters, has actually seen the Congess-Left alliance decimated in these elections.
In several minority-dominated seats in districts such as Maldaha, Murshidabad, North and South 24 Paganas, North and South Dinajpur the minority community that had in earlier elections sided with either the Congress or the Left have this time around gone overwhelmingly with TMC as a result of the polarisation politics that the BJP had relied upon so heavily during campaigning.
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As a result of this tactical voting, the traditional Congress vote in paticular, in districts such as Maldaha and Murshidabad, has gone to the TMC. Over and above that, the TMC has by and large managed to retain its loyal voter base among the Hindus in uban and semi-uban pockets.