Despite a high voltage campaign by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a pride of his ministers, BJP performance in Tamil Nadu was lackluster.
BJP candidates and allies failed to win a single seat across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Nagercoil in Kanyakumari district appeared to be the best performance for the party with its senior leader M R Gandhi in second spot trailing DMK rival Suresh Ranjan by a little over 5000 votes.
Key BJP leaders, including state party chief Tamilisai Soundararajan in Virugambakkam, national secretary H Raja in T Nagar and state unit vice-presidents Vanathi Srinivasan in Coimbatore South and M Chakravarthy in Tirutanni were in third place.
Union minister in charge of Tamil Nadu Prakash Javadekar said though that BJP candidates were trailing, party’s vote share would definitely go up.
For the first time in 32 years, Tamil Nadu has chosen to give a consecutive term to the same party – Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa will remain exactly where she is.
There were “no words in the dictionary,” Ms Jayalalithaa said to describe her gratitude to the people of the state. “I have no other interest in my life except to work for the people of Tamil Nadu,” the reclusive Chief Minister added.
Most exit polls had suggested that the 67-year-old’s arch rival, M Karunanidhi, and his DMK would return to power in a continuum of the “yo-yo trend” of which Tamil Nadu has been a long-time subscriber.
But as counting of votes accelerated, the leaders who were seen walking into Mr Karunanidhi’s home refused to comment on camera, indicating an acceptance of defeat.
Mr Karunanidhi is 93, and in a wheelchair, but had committed to serving as Chief Minister if the DMK was elected, an announcement which caused considerable heartache for his son,MK Stalin and his supporters.
In neighbouring Kerala, CPI(M)-led LDF regained power in cruising to a comfortable majority by inflicting a massive drubbing to the ruling Congress-headed UDF in the assembly polls which also saw BJP scripting history by opening its account in the state assembly.
LDF won 91 of the 140 assembly seats at stake. The result of Wadakkancherry is yet to be declared officially where UDF candidate Anil Akkara has won by a margin of just three votes. The Left Democratic Front (LDF) won 85 seats on its own and another six by independents fielded by the opposition front.