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Fragmented mandate of 2021 mini general election: Status quo for three states, change for one state and an UT; BJP stands to gain

3/05/2021 at 8:09 PM


Bhubaneswar, May 2: The mandate of the 2021 mini general election was fragmented. Voters of three states-West Bengal, Assam and Kerala -favoured status quo, while people of Tamil Nadu state and Puducherry Union Territory voted for change.

In the neighbouring West Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) won the race for power for the third consecutive term. Several senior leaders across the nation including Prime Minister and her arch political rival Narendra Modi have congratulated Banerjee for her regional outfit’s outstanding electoral victory.

Of the total 294 assembly seats, elections have been held in 292 seats. Out of 292 seat, TMC has secured 213 which is 64 more than the magic number. Mamata is going to be sworn in as the chief minister for the third term on May 5. She has set the record to be the first woman chief minister who is in throne thrice.

Though  Mamata scored a  hatrick as the chief minister, she, however, suffered a set back at the personal level as she was trounced by her close aide-turned-foe Suvendu Adhikari in the high-profile Nandigram seat.

Adhikari, a minister in  Mamata cabinet who had crossed over to BJP, had thrown a challenge to his former political master to contest from Nandigram, his family’s political bastion. Accepting the challenge, Mamata shifted to Nandigram from her traditional seat Bhawanipore. While Mamata fought the battle singlehandedly, on the other side was the entire BJP brigade led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president JP Nadda and an efficient election manager Union Petroleum & Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who hails from neighbouring Odisha. At the end of the jig-saw vote counting, Mamata was finally declared defeated.

On the other hand, the Congress and left parties, which had ruled the state for decades, suffered a serious drubbing. They drew a blank this time.

This time, it was a double victory for BJP. Though the ruling party at the Centre could not come to power in this Eastern state, it has been able to gain a formidable foothold and become the main Opposition in the 294-member state assembly by occupying 77 seats as against only three in the 2016 assembly election.

On the next door, Assam, BJP-led alliance led by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal rode to power for the second consecutive term.The people of Assam have given their mandate to the Sonowal government’s multi-pronged strategy of highlighting development work and schemes, while assailing the Congress for aligning with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), considered as an enemy of the Assamese identity. The ruling party has apparently steered clear about the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the main electoral plank of the campaign by the Congress-led alliance.

BJP has been successful in its strategy to enter South through Puduchery. The BJP alliance with All India NR Congress has been able to form government in the Union Territory of Puduchery for the first time.The combine has been able to secure the magic number (16) in the 30-member state assembly.

On the other hand, the Indian National Congress, the previous ruling party, had to be content with a meager two seats. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and independents secured six seats each. Just before the polls, in February, the Congress-led government in Puducherry lost a floor test after a series of defections.

However, BJP could not make a dent in the two big southern state- Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

In Kerala, Chief ministerPinarayi Vijayan’s Left alliance has been able to form government for the second term. In this highly literate Southern state, for the first time  the left democratic alliance could return to power for the second consecutive term. The state usually changes its government every five years. But this time, the anti-incumbency did not work and Vijayan remained a popular figure because of his government’s deft handling of the Covid and floods.

The win could boost the Left as Kerala is the only state where the communists hold power. On the other hand, Congress cadres have been demoralized for the party’s shocking electoral defeat.

The neighbouring state Tamil Nadu witnessed a political change after a decade. MK Stalin’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its allies secured majority mark in the 232-member assembly. The incumbent All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)’s tally came down to 66 .

The results will impact the Dravidian politics in the years to come in absence of the charismatic J Jayalalithaa and the colossus M Karunanidhi.

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