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Friday, May 12, 2006 

Assembly Elections 2006: A Snapshot

The Assembly election results are out, and have surprised no one. In all states except Assam, the people have voted decisively in favour of one party or alliance.

In Bengal and Kerala, the left has swept the polls. So did the DMK alliance in Tamil Nadu. While the results were as expected by psephologists, the magnitude of victory has surprised a few. There were a few reasons for this.

In Kerala (as in Tamil Nadu), it has always been seen that in every elections, the alliance which is in opposition wins the polls. As the Left Democratic Front (LDF) was in opposition in Kerala assembly, it was bound to win owing to the anti-incumbency factor. Added to that was the fact that the national leadership of Congress didn’t speak to much against the Left during their campaigns, as the Left was supporting the Congress government at the centre. However, the left (as always) continued to blast both the governments, the UPA in the centre, and the UDF in Kerala. So was the case in West Bengal as well.

In Bengal, added to the muted campaign by the Congress, the opposition was in a complete state of disarray. The CPM had effectively blackmailed Congress from staying out of the ‘Mahajyot’ of Mamata Banerjee. Budhadeb Bhattacharjee’s work had floored Calcuttans, and for a change, Calcutta voted for CPM. CPM baiters had been crediting scientific rigging for CPM’s long stay in power, but even the worst critics were forced to admit that elections this time were free and fair.

In Assam Congress reached near the majority mark, which is an achievement in itself, as Assam has a history of voting out the incumbent government. Again the benefits of a split opposition were all too clear. The AGP had suffered a split, with former CM Prafulla Mahanta forming his own party, and neither tying up with the BJP.

In Tamil Nadu, the elections were expected to be too close to call, but the DMK-combine swept the poll. CPM and Congress benefited from the largess shown by the DMK, and won a large number of seats in TN. Amma was decisively voted out. A part of the loss could be blamed on actor Vijaykanth, whose party, the DMDK, ate 7% of AIADMK vote.

The Assembly polls show major gains for the left front and major losses for Congress in Kerala & West Bengal. This would mean a more aggressive left front, and a weaker government at the centre. The good results for parties like DMK will revive talks of a non-Congress, non-BJP third front. SP and CPM have been dropping hints on the formation of third front for quite some time. The BJP was a non-entity in all these states (Except Assam), and nothing was expected from the BJP. However, the poor showing in WB and Assam further weakens the BJP standing in national politics.

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