Stakes high for big political parties as 3rd phase of polling ends

Assembly elections Voter
oting in Jharkhand first phase polling

New Delhi, Apr 6 : Voting for the crucial third phase of Assembly polls in Assam and West Bengal, and the single phase elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry, ended on Tuesday with all the major political parties — BJP, Trinamool Congress, Congress, AIADMK and Left — having high stakes.

Polling was held for 475 seats in five states/UT, including 31 seats in West Bengal, 40 in Assam, 234 in Tamil Nadu, 140 in Kerala and 30 in Puducherry.

The elections to elect the new Assemblies in Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry concluded on Tuesday, while West Bengal will see five more phases with the last one scheduled on April 29.

The BJP has high stakes in all the five states/UT, either alone or with its alliance partners. The saffron party is going solo in the high-octane battle in West Bengal to end the 10-year rule of the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress. Banerjee, who is seeking a third term in office, is fighting a fierce battle with the BJP and the Congress-Left combine.

Most of the 31 seats that went to the polls in West Bengal on Tuesday are Trinamool strongholds. But the BJP has also deployed all its resources to make inroads into the Trinamool bastions this time. On Tuesday, the BJP accused the ruling Trinamool of intimidating its polling agents and voters.

In the third and final phase of elections in Assam, the fates of the candidates in 40 Assembly constituencies have been sealed.

The BJP is fighting the Assam polls in alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL). It had broken away from its old alliance partner Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) to join hands with the UPPL.

The Congress, on the other hand, has formed a ‘Mahajoth’ (grand alliance) with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), BPF, CPI (M), CPI, CPI (ML) Liberation, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM).

For the BJP, a lot depends on the performance of its alliance partners in the third phase, and the biggest challenge for it is the consolidation of minority votes which many feel may go to the Mahajoth of which the AIUDF is a part.

In Tamil Nadu, it is a direct fight between the ruling AIADMK-led NDA and the opposition DMK-Congress alliance. This was the first elections in the state held in the absence J Jayalalithaa and M. Karunanidhi. The opposition DMK is trying hard of uproot the ruling AIADMK. It is believed that the polls will decide the future of both the main parties in the state — AIADMK and DMK.

Superstar Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam and T.T.V. Dhinakaran’s AMMK are also trying their luck in Tamil Nadu.

In Kerala, the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) are in a direct fight. The BJP is also trying to make its presence felt in the Kerala Assembly, where it had just one member in the previous term. The BJP has left no stones unturned to make inroads into the southern state, including reaching out to the Christian community.

In the Union Territory of Puducherry, it is a direct fight between the Congress and the NDA led by the All India N.R. Congress (AINRC). Former Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy, whose government lost the trust vote just before the announcement of polls, is leading the Congress fight.

People in these five states/UT exercised their franchise in about 1,53,538 polling stations spread across 475 Assembly constituencies.

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