DMK on comeback mode, CPI(M) likely to buck Kerala trend; NDA leading in Pondy

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Chennai/Thiruvananthapuram, May 2 (PTI) After a ten year stint in the opposition, DMK in Tamil Nadu on Sunday was set for a comeback to the ruling saddle, while the CPI(M) was on course to retain power for the first time in Kerala in four decades and the AINRC-led NDA was leading in Puducherry.

Counting of votes polled in the assembly election in the respective states and the Union Territory on April 6 was going on at a brisk pace in all three.

All major names-- Chief Ministers K Palaniswami and Pinarayi Vijayan, former CMs O Panneerselvam and Oommen Chandy, DMK president M K Stalin and MNM leader Kamal Haasan were leading from their respective constituencies in the two states and the UT.

According to initial trends, the BJP,for which Tamil Nadu has remained a virtual final frontier with no preference from the electorate for long, was leading in four seats, while the saffron party was ahead in three in neighbouring Puducherry.

The party has no elected representatives in the outgoing Assemblies, although Puducherry had three nominated BJP legislators.

While no visible sweep was seen in favour of the Stalin-led DMK, it was ahead in 119 segments, one more than the minimum for a simple majority in the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly and its allies in 19, giving the front a comfortable leeway.

The AIADMK is ahead in 81 seats and together with its partners, in 93 constituencies, according to trends made available by the Election Commission for 232 segments till 2 pm.

A key pointer in the trends available so far is that the AIADMK continued as a force to be reckoned with, despite the burden of a 10-year anti-incumbency.

The party was doing well in its traditional stronghold of western region, comprising districts like Coimbatore, Salem, and Tirupur, besides in parts of North, while DMK was surging ahead in many parts, including the Cauvery delta region, even as it was leading in most of the 16 seats in Chennai, often described as its stronghold.

DMK allies-- the Congress was leading in 12 segments, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi in three, and the two Left parties together in four seats.

AIADMK's allies the PMK and BJP are ahead in seven and four segments resepectively. This included state BJP chief L Murugan from Dharapuram.

In Kerala, the ruling CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front is all set to retain power as it is leading in at least 94 of the 140 assembly seats as counting is still in progress.

With Vijayan managing to steer the Left bloc for a successive term, LDF will be bucking the over four decade-old trend of swinging between the Communists and the Congress- headed UDF in the southern state.

As per theElection Commission (EC) figures, the ruling front is ahead in 85 seats, UDF in 44and the BJP-led NDA in three constituencies.

Senior Congress leaders, including Ramesh Chennithala, Chandy, Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan and P T Thomas established leads, but many front candidates are facing an uphill task.

The BJP continued to maintain its lead in Palakkad, where it has fielded 'Metroman' E Sreedharan.

The 88-year-old technocrat is ahead of his nearest rival and two-time sitting MLA, Shafi Parambil by over 4,000 votes.

Senior BJP leader and former Mizoram Governor, Kummanam Rajasekharan and actor-turned-Rajya Sabha MP, Suresh Gopi are also leading in Nemom and Thrissur constituencies respectively.

In Puducherry, AINRC founder and former Chief Minister N Rangasamy was trailing behind Congress-backed Independent candidate in Yanam, an enclave of Puducherry in Andhra Pradesh, in a surprise development.

Rangasamy, leading the NDA, is also seeking election from Thattanchavady constituency, his pocket borough in Puducherry. The counting of votes polled in Thattanchavady would be taken up in course of the day.

The NDA was leading in eight seats in the UT, with AINRC in five and BJP 3, while the Congress led Secular Democratic alliance was ahead in two segments.

SDA constituents DMK and Congress were leading in one seat each. PTI VGN UD COR SA APR ADMINISTRATOR APR ADMINISTRATOR