• Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Pucudherry on April 6
• Assam will have three phrases from March 27
• Counting, results on May 2
New Delhi: The Election Commission of India has decided to hold polls in five election-bound States of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry from March 27. West Bengal will have polling in eight phases and Assam in three phases where as Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry will have one day poll. Counting of votes will be taken up on May 2 and the results will be announced the same day.
The ECI announced on Friday that polls for 294-seat west Bengal Assembly will be held in eight phases starting on March 27. The other phases of polling will take place on April 1, 6, 10, 17, 22, 26 and 29. Polling for 234-seat Tamil Nadu Assembly, 140-seat Kerala Assembly and 30-seat Puducherry Assembly will be held on April 6. The Assam Assembly which has 126 seats will go to polls in three phases from March 27 followed by polls on April 1 and April 6.
First large-scale polls after Bihar :
These are the first large scale elections to be held in times of Covid pandemic after Bihar polls. BJP won Assam elections in 2016 while Kerala opted for Left Democratic Front. Mamata Banerjee won in West Bengal her second consecutive term. Of all the five States, only Puducherry returned the Congress while the good old national party had lost in all the other four State. Even in Puducherry, it was ousted from power last week because of defections by four MLAs-three Congress and one DMK.
BJP brings in Sreedharan, the ‘Metro Man of India :
While the CPM led Left Democratic Front won the Assembly elections, the Congress came back strongly in 2019 Lok Sabha elections winning 19 of the 20 seats from Kerala. But then, Left Front has won the recent local body elections handsomely thus confusing the pollsters. More than 100 Left leaders had jumped on the BJP bandwagon on Thursday. Now the BJP has come up with a trump card in E. Sreedharan, the ‘Metro Man’ of India who at 88 years of ripe age plunged into politics. He said he would be contesting the forthcoming elections and hopes to be made the chief minister should BJP win. BJP has been making a serious attempt.
TN likely to elect DMK-Congress alliance :
Tamil Nadu which voted for Jayalalithaa in 2016 for the second term had enough of the AIADMK. Chief Minister Palanisamy and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam have been opposing Sashikala, the former aide of Jayalalithaa who was released from a Bengaluru jail recently. Her arrival in Chennai made the Tamil Nadu politics murkier. BJP is having an alliance with the AIADMK after Rajinikant made an exit from the political platform. This is the first Assembly election to be held when both the stalwarts of Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa are no more. The DMK under Stalin did well in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The DMK – Congress alliance , which was in opposition for ten years, is likely to make it this time, according to the observers.
Congress missing Tarun Gogoi :
The Congress party which lost Tarun Gogoi, the popular former chief minister who died recently, is fighting to make a comeback in Assam. It lost to the BJP in 2016. The Congress is opposing the Citizenship Act while the BJP is trying to polarise people on the plank of religion using the same Act.
Puducherry, after felling Narayanaswamy government of the Congress, the BJP and the other opposition party did not offer to form an alternative government. It preferred to have President’s rule. The Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bed, who was creating a lot of trouble for Narayanaswamy, has been eased out before felling the Congress government. Tamilisai, Governor of Telangana, is holding the additional charge of Puducherry. The Congress hopes to get the popular mandate in its favour due to sympathy for Narayanaswamy who was ditched by MLAs of his own party.
Last citadel :
Of the five States that are going to polls. West Bengal is critically important. It is almost the last citadel of non-BJP politics. Although Kerala, Tamila Nadu, Puducherry never had BJP governments, they are not likely to swing for the saffron party in the next elections which can be described as mini general elections. West Bengal, however, is likely to tilt in favour of the BJP which would be a watershed in Indian politics. If West Bengal falls for BJP, nothing can stop the saffron party from taking over the rest of the States.
The only development that can stall the BJP is eruption of Bengali sentiment of self-respect (asmitha). Mamata Banerjee has been able to invoke the sentiment to some extent. But she lost many lieutenants in the run up to the elections and she has double anti-incumbency of two terms to reckon with. One can only cross his/her fingers and wait till the afternoon of May 2 to know the most awaited verdict of the Bengalis.