Election Commission will announce poll dates for Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and Puducherry in the evening. The states are due for elections in April-May. This is the first major set of elections to be held in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic after the Bihar election. Polls are to be held for 294 seats in West Bengal, 234 seats in Tamil Nadu, 140 seats in Kerala, 126 seats in Assam and 30 seats in the Union Territory of Puducherry.
Bengal will see the highest stakes battle with CM Mamata Banerjee facing a tough challenge from the BJP amid an exodus from her Trinamool Congress to the BJP and corruption investigations against her party leaders.
The BJP is also campaigning aggressively to retain power in Assam, where it won for the first time in 2016, beating Congress. In the last round of polls in these states in 2016, the Congress could win only Puducherry but the party this week lost power in the Union Territory adjoining Tamil Nadu after multiple resignations - a trend seen in other states like Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka where Congress governments crashed because of defections.
In Kerala, the BJP has so far been a minor player but its recruitment drive this time shows the party is prepping to challenge the ruling Left-led coalition in a big way. The party has roped in ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan and other high profile faces in the coastal state. Close to 100 Left workers joined the BJP yesterday.