New Delhi: West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress on Thursday crushed the opposition and Tamil Nadu's AIADMK proved exit polls wrong by retaining power in assembly elections, the biggest popularity test after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP stormed to power in Assam while the Left made a comeback in Kerala amid a washout in West Bengal.
The Congress could take solace only in Puducherry where it managed to get a simple majority along with DMK to wrest power from AINRC headed by N Rangaswami, a former Congressman.
The results of the assembly elections saw the end of Congress rule in Assam where it had scored a hat-trick in the last elections under Tarun Gogoi.
With Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal as its Chief Ministerial face, the BJP and its allies AGP, and Bodo People's Front scored a landslide victory.
In the 126-member Assam Assembly, BJP won 24 seats and was leading in 38 (total 62), AGP won 6 and was leading in 8 (total 14) and BPF won 7 and was leading in 4 seats (total 11). The BJP last time had just 5 seats while the AGP had 10 and BPF had 12.
The Congress, which had secured 78 seats in the last elections, was today victorious in 10 seats and was leading in 14 (total 24). The AIUDF, led by Badrudin Ajmal, won 3 seats and was ahead in 10 (total 13).
In neighbouring West Bengal, Trinamool Congress headed by Mamata Banerjee was set to secure a two-thirds majority, fighting it alone against the Left-Congress combine.
Bettering its performance over the 2011 elections, Trinamool Congress, which had then contested in alliance with Congress and won 184 seats in the 294-member Assembly, has now won 98 seats and leading in 113 (total 211).
The Congress, which had last time got 42, improved a bit by securing three more seats this time. It was already declared winner in 14 seats and was leading in 31.
Its ally CPI(M) registered a big slide as it got only 26 seats against 40 it had last time. The party was declared winner in 9 seats and was leading in 17. CPI(M) allies CPI, Forward Bloc and RSP were ahead in 5 seats. Forward Bloc has already won one seat.
As Trinamool supporters celebrated wildly, Banerjee said a campaign of slander and lies led to her party's sweeping win. "People do not like such campaigns. There were all sorts of alliances against us. But people have ultimately made their choice.
"This is for the first time in 49 years that such a massive mandate has been given to a single party," said Banerjee, whose party hopes to win a whopping 212 seats.
Keeping alive Kerala's tradition of ousting the government in every election, the Congress-led UDF suffered a stunning rout, which its leader and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said he had never expected.
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) was leading in 91 of the 140 seats and the UDF in 47.
"This is a vote against the corrupt and those who failed to protect the dignity of women," said CPI-M leader and former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan.
The Bharatiya Janata Party also made history in Kerala where its veteran O. Rajagopal, 86, was elected from Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram. He will be the first ever BJP member in the Kerala assembly.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi promptly congratulated West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Tamil Nadu counterpart J. Jayalalithaa.
"Across India, people are placing their faith in (the) BJP and see it as the party that can usher in all-round and inclusive development," he tweeted.
Tamil Nadu produced a spectacular result. The AIADMK was set to grab 126 of the 234 seats, leaving the DMK-Congress combine with 102 seats, but far more than what it won in 2011. Almost all other parties were wiped out.
An elated Jayalalithaa said: "There are not enough words in dictionary to adequately express my feelings of gratitude to the people of Tamil Nadu."
Most exit polls had predicted that the AIADMK would be unseated.
There were noisy celebrations outside Jayalalithaa's residence in Chennai. Holding her portraits, supporters danced to music and burst firecrackers.
But Chennai, battered by floods in December, dumped the AIADMK. Its candidates trailed in 12 of the 16 constituencies. Jayalalithaa, however, was set to win from Radhakrishnan Nagar in the city.