New Delhi: Two mighty
upsets, a photo finish and a third consecutive win... As the
electoral jigsaw fell into place Friday, the political picture too
changed with the Left exiting from West Bengal and Kerala, the DMK
from Tamil Nadu, the Congress staying on in Assam and Mamata
Banerjee entering as India's newest woman chief minister.
West Bengal and Tamil Nadu threw up the most decisive mandates,
the most important since the 2009 general election. While Banerjee
sailed to a historic win, ending the Left Front's 34-year
uninterrupted rule with an estimated 214 seats in the 294-member
assembly, J. Jayalalithaa's AIADMK won an equally emphatic victory
over the DMK in Tamil Nadu with leads in 199 seats in the
In Assam, the Congress government was headed for its third
consecutive term with 79 seats in the 126-member house. Kerala was
a close call, with the Congress-led United Democratic Front
scraping through with 72 seats, just four above ruling Left
Democratic Front's (LDF) 68.
Two chief ministers, both stalwarts and both 87, bowed out -
CPI-M's V.S. Achuthanandan in Kerala and DMK's M. Karunanidhi in
In the tiny union territory of Puducherry, it was a neck and neck
race between the ruling Congress-led alliance and the opposition
front led by the breakaway Congress AINRC.
In Kolkata, all roads led to Banerjee's residence in Kalighat.
"This is a complete victory of democracy... This is a historic
verdict. After 34 years, Bengal has got new freedom," the woman,
who brought the Left to its knees in its bastion, told a crowd of
thousands that kept cheering her.
"The one traffic light in the world that was red for 34 years just
turned green in Bengal," Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted.
Admitting defeat, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader
Sitaram Yechury said: "The people have opted for a change and the
main beneficiary of the change has been the Trinamool Congress."
The Left lost out in Kerala too, though narrowly. The Congress-led
UDF won 72 seats - just one more than the 71 required to form a
This is the first time that a government has gone down fighting,
with the smallest ever margin of defeat.
Congress' Oommen Chandy, widely tipped to be the next chief
minister, said: "This was not what we expected."
This election also wrote the epitaph of DMK founder leader M.
Karunanidhi, who at 87 is unlikely to take the mantle of chief
Defying poll prediction, the AIADMK made a clean sweep of Tamil
Nadu, leaving the DMK and its allies gasping with only 37 seats.
As a triumphant Jayalalithaa prepared to become chief minister for
a third time, pundits said the DMK's taint might have been too
deep to have been overlooked.
Earlier in the day, Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi said
that of the Rs.70 crore of black money seized during this
election, Rs.60 crore was from Tamil Nadu.
Clearly, the alleged lavish distribution of money by the DMK had
not done the trick for the party, whose leader A. Raja is behind
bars in the 2G spectrum scam. Its MP and Karunanidhi's daughter
Kanimozhi has been named co-conspirator in the multimillion rupee
scandal and could go to jail.
Although Jayalalithaa made no statement immediately, she appeared
before cheering crowds to acknowledge their greetings.
In Assam, the Congress was set for an enviable hat-trick with the
main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP) crushed. Even their respective party presidents lost
"People of Assam voted us based on our performance in the past 10
years," Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told IANS.
Assam was the biggest positive of the day for India's ruling
Congress, which found itself wiped out in Tamil Nadu and just
scraping through in Kerala. It did take refuge in the victory of
its ally Trinamool in West Bengal, where it was the second-rung
There was more bad news for the party. In Andhra Pradesh's Kadapa
Lok Sabha constituency, Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy of the newly floated
YSR Congress Party was poised for a huge win, leading by over
200,000 votes over his Congress rival.
In Chhattisgarh's Bastar Lok Sabha seat, Dinesh Kashyap of the
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was leading over Kawasi Lakhman of