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West Bengal Elections: Mamata Banerjee Pushes Modi’s BJP Back

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Although India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made major gains in the four states and one Union Territory that voted in elections to assemblies over the past month, there is reason for the country’s opposition parties and alliances to draw satisfaction from the election results. In three states, non-BJP parties and alliances have successfully kept the BJP out of power.

The results reaffirm the message from various states that voted in assembly elections last year. Regional parties with strong and able leaders are able to vanquish the BJP, and importantly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, the party’s chief election strategists and campaigners, are not invincible.

Campaigning and voting in the just concluded assembly elections took place amid a surging second wave of COVID-19 infections in the country.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance returned to power in the northeastern state of Assam and has also wrested power from the Congress in the Union Territory of Puducherry. However, it will have to remain content with sitting in the opposition in West Bengal, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.

In Kerala, the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) returned to power, winning 99 seats in the 140-seat Assembly. The LDF victory is historic; not only did it improve on its 2016 performance but also, this is the first time in four decades that a ruling alliance has won a second consecutive term in the state. In Tamil Nadu, the Dravida Munetra Kazhagam (DMK)-Congress led alliance swept to power after 10 years. It has secured 159 seats in the 234-seat assembly, 61 more than what it won in 2016.

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In West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has returned to power with around 213 seats. Not only has it won by a large margin – the BJP trails far behind – but also, the party has improved upon its victories in the 2011 and 2016 elections.

The TMC victory is all the more remarkable as it was achieved against the odds.

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