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BJP storms Assam and opens accounts in Kerala

The ‘achche din’ that had eluded it all of last year were back for the BJP on Thursday with the party winning the polls in Assam and making a much longed for electoral debut in Kerala that voted in the Left Democratic Front (LDF), while the Congress, which had been in power in the two states, slunk back in defeat.
Though Congress’ Tarun Gogoi in Assam and Oommen Chandy in Kerala couldn’t retain their states, prompting observers to write the party’s epitaph, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal and AIADMK’s J Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu triumphed the incumbency odds for second consecutive terms as chief ministers.
Of the 126 seats in Assam, the BJP and its allies Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bodo People’s Front (BPF) won 86 seats, leaving the Congress, which had been ruling the state since 2001, with 24 seats. Interestingly, however, the party had the highest vote percentage – at 31.1 percent, a notch above the BJP’s 29.5 percent.
In West Bengal, the Trinamool bagged 213 of 294 seats, leaving the CPM-led Left-Congress alliance far behind with 74 seats. If ‘didi’ Mamata did it in West Bengal, ‘amma’ Jayalalithaa broke the three-decade pendulum swing of voters alternately choosing the AIADMK and the DMK. While the AIADMK won 132 of 232 seats in Tamil Nadu, a comfortable 16 above the halfway mark of 116, the DMK and its allies got 98 seats.
In neighbouring Kerala, however, the pendulum swung for the LDF, which got 91 seats of 140, leaving the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) trailing with 47 seats. Puducherry, the fifth state that went to the polls, offered some comfort to the Congress. The party just about scraped through with 15 seats along with the DMK’s two in the 30-member house.
Jubilation for the BJP, a setback for the Left and doom for the Congress, the numbers game spelt different things for different parties.
For the BJP, which celebrated two years in office just three days ago and had last year suffered massive defeat in the Delhi and Bihar assembly polls, there could have been no better second anniversary gift. It had won on its own steam in a northeastern state for the first time, opened its account in Kerala and made some gains in West Bengal.
“Across India, people are placing their faith in BJP,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet. Party president Amit Shah saw it as a decisive step towards its ‘Çongress mukt Bharat’ campaign and spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh said triumphantly, “The Congress enjoyed a pan India status, now it will be the BJP.”
If the BJP exulted, the Congress, which was reduced to governing only 7 percent of India with Karnataka as its only big state, looked for answers for its virtual decimation. Going solo in Assam and tying up with the Left in West Bengal, the grand old party had tried it all but failed.
Accepting the verdict with “utmost humility”, party president Sonia Gandhi said, “We will introspect into the reasons for our loss and will rededicate ourselves to the service of the people with greater vigour.”
The verdict was a setback for the Left too. Its gamble of tying up with the Congress in West Bengal while contesting against it in Kerala failed.
Though it won back Kerala – given the yo-yo politics of the state – it lost out in West Bengal, a state it had ruled for more than three decades from1977 to 2011.
Stating that the party would evaluate the results, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said they would evaluate the losses. “The entry of BJP in West Bengal is marked by an understanding between BJP and didi,” he told reporters and added that they expected escalation in violence against their cadres.
In fact, the Congress got more seats than the combined Left. Amongst the big losers was veteran Marxist leader Surjya Kanta Mishra, who was a chief minister probable.
And in Assam, Badruddin Ajmal of the AIUDF, who had declared himself kingmaker, also lost his seat to the Congress.

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