Kolkata/New Delhi, May 12 (Calcutta Tube / IBNS): The 24-hour countdown began in West Bengal on Thursday with results of the Assembly election expected sometime in the afternoon on Friday and almost all post-poll surveys predicting a landslide victory for the Trinamool Congress against the ruling reds.
In three of the country’s biggest surveys for this poll, which the Left patriarchs rubbished as ‘bogus’, the only distinguishing factor is the margin by which Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, backed by the Congress party, is expected to crush the Marxists.
For over 34 consecutive years the Left Front, led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), have ruled the West Bengal. A state that largely dissed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) ‘Hindutva’ politics and sniffed at the Congress that held power till 1977 amid waning popularity towards the end.
But despite their populist image of a government that thinks first about the poor and the downtrodden, analysts believe the grave of the Left in Bengal was dug with the fiascoes at Singur and Nandigram.
Industrial projects gone wrong due to land acquisition policy that triggered statewide outrage, violence and deaths by police bullets splashed across news media since 2007, were followed by back-to-back poll debacles in Lok Sabha, Municpality and Panchayat elections for the Left.
And there seems to be no closure for the Left as exit polls and post-poll surveys for the state’s most-closely watched elections in recent history almost unanimously predicting that the Trinamool will surely topple the Left regime.
Exit polls by TV channel Star Ananda and The Nielsen Company say that out of the 294 seats in the West Bengal State Assembly, the Congress-TMC combine would bag 225 seats, the Left would get 60, with the BJP getting three seats and the rest getting the remaining six seats.
In fact it predicts that the TMC alone would get about 180 seats, well beyond the majority figure of 148.
Post-poll projections by the the CNN-IBN-The Week-CSDS survey predicts that TMC would get between 222 and 234 seats, while the Left Front would get between 60 to 72 seats.
Meanwhile the survey by Headlines Today-ORG gave TMC anywhere between 210 and 220 seats, 65 to 70 seats for the Left Front and 10 to 15 seats to independents and other parties.
The final results, however, will only be available once the electronic voting machines are opened at different counting centres at 8 am on Friday, to show whether the TMC-touted ‘Parivartan’ (change) will indeed usher in, in Bengal.
Results are expected by 2 pm, Election Commission sources said. Security has been tightened in vulnerable parts of the state, much like that seen in the six-phase polling that began on Apr 18 and ended on May 10.
Exit polls in other states that went to poll, however, are a lot less unanimous.
In Kerala where the battle was between the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), led by the CPI-M and the United Democratic Front (UDF), led by the Congress, surveys were less polarised but most leaned towards the UDF.
The CNN-IBN-The Week-CSDS post-poll survey said that the state was too close to call with the LDF seemingly winning 69 and 77 seats while the UDF garnering 63 and 71 seats out of the 140 seats in the Kerala assembly.
Headlines Today-ORG predicted that the UDF would win between 85 and 92 seats and the LDF would only get between 48 and 55, a result that was backed by Star News which gave the UDF 88 seats and LDF only 49.
However, the Malayala Manorama-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies survey predicted that the LDF will return to power with 69 to 77 seats, while The UDF would fall just short with 63 to 71 seats.
In Tamil Nadu too opinions were divided but with a general lean towards J Jayalalithaa’s All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and allies against the ruling Congress-Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) alliance.
The CNN-IBN-The Week-CSDS survey tipped AIADMK to oust the DMK government which has found itself embroiled in the massive 2G spectrum scam allegations. Its results showed the AIADMK bagging between 120 and 132 seats while DMK getting between 102 and 114.
Exit polls conducted by CVB News-C-Voter too say the AIADMK and allies are expected to win between 168 and 176 seats while the DMK-Congress combine will get between 54 and 62.
However, the Headlines Today-ORG survey predicted a win for the incumbent. According to it, the DMK-led alliance is expected to get 115 and 130 seats in the 234-seat assembly, while the opposition AIADMK-led alliance may get between 105 and 120 seats.
In Assam, divergent results were predicted with one survey leaning in favour of the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government and the other predicting a hung assembly.
While the CNN-IBN-The Week-CSDS survey projected the Congress as the clear winner with 64 to 72 seats in the 126-member assembly, Headlines Today-ORG predicted a hung house with the 41 to 47 seats to the Congress, 31 to 35 seats to the Asom Gana Parishad, 16-18 seats to the BJP and 13-15 seats to the AIUDF.