New Delhi: By the end of the day, the outcome of the assembly polls in all but West Bengal will be sealed in the EVMs. This phase of polling, encompassing 475 seats across four states and the union territory of Puducherry, is by far the biggest of this round of state polls. And for many of the parties it is also the most significant for differing reasons.
For BJP, Tuesday’s polling is in states and areas where it has little to lose and hopes to make significant gains. Congress must make this day count in its bid to return to office in Kerala and in Assam as must DMK in Tamil Nadu. Trinamool Congress can’t afford to lose ground in these areas which it swept in both 2016 and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and AIADMK will know that losing office at this juncture could seriously threaten the party’s cohesion. Left will be hoping to regain some of the votes it lost in Bengal and would be just as anxious to remain in the saddle in Kerala.
The BJP’s stakes in Kerala and Tamil Nadu are relatively low but in Assam this phase is in lower Assam and the Bodo areas where the combination of Congress, AIUDF and Bodoland People’s Front is on paper very formidable. This was the weakest area for BJP even in 2016, but it can’t afford to lose any further ground. Congress, on the other hand, must make significant inroads here with its allies if it is to pose a serious challenge in the state.
In West Bengal, on the other hand, TMC’s domination of the 31 seats in this phase in and around Greater Kolkata has been so overwhelming that there is only an upside for the rest and at best a holding operation for the party facing an energised BJP. It won 29 of these 31 seats in 2016 and led in the same number in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
From Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in the south to Assam in the northeast, Tuesday will be a day of contending alliances. West Bengal stands out as an exception on this day with TMC and BJP perceived as the main adversaries. Who comes out on top in this slugfest could well determine the future not just of the state but of national politics in the short to medium term.