Counting Day

Election results for Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal were all announced today. You can follow the results as they are tallied here or here (with maps!).

In Assam, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) snagged an 86-seat majority through its alliance with the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP). This is the election that attracted the most attention in north Indian media because 1) the BJP had the greatest chance of winning compared to the other state elections and 2) it was the only state in which Congress and the BJP were the principal competitors. Congress won a measly 26 seats, retiring it from its fifteen years in government, while the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) won 13 seats. This result is not surprising, though the magnitude of the BJP’s victory is quite impressive. At sixty seats, the BJP nearly won a majority all on its own. In West Gauhati, the assembly constituency (AC) seat where I observed exit polls and post-poll fieldwork in April, the AGP won.

In Kerala, the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) won a clean victory with 91 of 140 seats, besting the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), which won 47 seats. Kerala has swung back and forth between LDF rule and UDF rule for the last few decades, so this result is not surprising either. The BJP managed to expand its vote share to 11% (with its ally, the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena) and win its first seat in the niyamasabha with this election. The assembly constituency it won, Nemom, is where I observed pre-poll fieldwork last week. The other AC where I observed fieldwork, Varkala, was won by the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The only remaining question is whether former chief minister (and nonagenarian) VS Achuthanandan or Pinarayi Vijayan will be the next chief minister of Kerala, a question the CPM must decide on in the coming days.

In Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa’s Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK) managed to hold on to power with a reduced majority of 134 out of 232 seats, beating Karunanidhi’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) – Congress alliance, which nevertheless expanded its vote share from the 2011 elections to win 89 seats. The much-hyped People’s Welfare’s Front (PWF), a motley alliance of the Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM), Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC), and Vidhuthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) led by film star Vijayakanth, failed to win even one seat. As Rahul Verma wrote in The Indian Express today, this shows that the Tamil system of two Dravidian parties taking turns in power remains stronger than ever. This election was a milestone in that Jayalalitha bucked the trend of Tamil politics by which the DMK and ADMK are voted out every five years. This result comes something as a surprise, since the exit polls released Monday all showed the DMK-Congress winning (with the exception of CVoter, one of my research affiliates, who called the ADMK victory). The ADMK won in Usilampatti, the assembly constituency where I observed pre-poll fieldwork last week.

In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee and the Trina Mool Congress (TMC) won in a landslide, winning 214 out of 294 seats. The Left Front-Congress alliance managed to win only 73 seats, with the Congress winning 44 and the Left Front winning 29. A disastrous result for the Left, which dominated West Bengal politics from 1977 to 2011. The BJP won three seats, an improvement over its 2011 performance (when it won none) but did not match its performance from 2014. In Bolpur, the AC where I observed exit polls and post-poll fieldwork in April, the TMC won.

And in the tiny union territory of Puducherry, an alliance between the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Congress has won 17 of 30 seats.

Overall, these are bad results for the Congress, middling results for the Left, and promising results for the BJP. The Congress has now been on a losing streak for several years at the national and state level. Losing two more states was the last result they needed; the only major state which they now govern is Karnataka (they are also a junior partner in the Bihar government). The Left, though happy to win Kerala, appears to be facing terminal decline in West Bengal, once their stronghold. The Left also failed to win a single seat in Tamil Nadu. The BJP is rejoicing at its big victory in Assam — their first win in the Northeast India — while also pleased to expand on its vote share and finally win a seat in Kerala.

I am happy to say that the CSDS pre-polls (for Kerala and Tamil Nadu) and post-polls (for Assam and West Bengal) were spot on in terms of identifying the trends in these four elections (we did not do a survey for Puducherry). The CSDS/Lokniti team’s analysis of the survey results will be featured in The Indian Express over the next few days.

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