NUNS from the Missionaries of Charity, the global order founded by Mother Teresa, wait in a line to cast their vote outside a polling station in Kolkata.—Reuters
NUNS from the Missionaries of Charity, the global order founded by Mother Teresa, wait in a line to cast their vote outside a polling station in Kolkata.—Reuters

NEW DELHI: Exit polls from five Indian states that held elections between March 27 and April 29 have projected a narrow victory for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the furiously contested state while giving the Left Front a comfortable win in Kerala.

Tamil Nadu is projected as the third state where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party and allies are set to be disappointed against an opposition coalition led by the DMK.

Results for the state polls in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and Puducherry are expected to be announced on May 2. The unusually long and staggered polls have been held responsible for playing a part in India’s surge in Covid-19 patients.

The Madras High Court this week said the election commission deserved to be held accountable for murder.

According to a poll of polls done by NDTV, Ms Banerjee has an edge in Bengal with her Trinamool Congress winning 148 of the state’s 294 seats and the BJP not far behind at 131 seats.

An aggregate of six exit polls predicts that Ms Banerjee’s comfort factor will largely depend on how much she can widen the gap with her fierce challenger after a series of defections. The BJP’s projected tally is significant in a state where it has so far been an outlier.

In Kerala, the incumbent Left-led LDF front is likely to retain power with 88 of 140 seats and the Congress-led UDF will be a distant second with 50 seats, the polls say. If that proves right, it will be the first re-election for an incumbent in Kerala’s see-saw politics. The BJP is set to make its presence felt in the southern state with two seats, the poll of polls says.

For Tamil Nadu, the polls predict a sweep for the opposition DMK and its allies; they are likely to win a staggering 174 of 234 seats, the polls say. The ruling AIADMK — the BJP’s ally — will finish with 57 seats in its first state election since the death of its charismatic leader J Jayalalithaa in 2016, say the exit polls.

The Congress is staring at disappointment in Assam, the NDTV’s poll of exit polls suggests, with the BJP expected to retain power by winning 69 of 126 seats. The Congress, which campaigned aggressively to win back its former bastion, is likely to win 54 seats, say the polls.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2021

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