They touted themselves as potential kingmakers – on the basis of the solid following they enjoy in their respective territories -- for quite some time and even settled the profit-and-loss account before the elections were kicked off.
The regional satraps—J Jayalalithaa of the AIADMK, Mamata Banerjee of the TMC and Naveen Patnaik of the BJD – prepared well. Their performance matched projections, but profits got wiped out even before they began negotiations.
For, the landslide victory of the BJP changed it all. Since they are of no great consequence to the ruling formation now at the Centre, their bargaining power has almost gone.
They will be approached for helping out the government in the Rajya Sabha, where it is woefully short of numbers, but that is hardly any leverage for hard bargain.
Till the counting day, all the three played their cards close to their chests, except perhaps Banerjee making calibrated attacks on the BJP’s PM designate Narendra Modi to keep her Muslim vote bank intact.
Jayalalithaa, barring one or two occasions, never targeted the BJP while going all out against the Congress and the DMK. The Tamil Nadu CM even backed out of an alliance with the Left at the last moment and ensured that no major alliances were formed in the state.
The ensuing equations served her purpose as the state witnessed an unprecedented multi-corner contest this time. The BJP’s rainbow coalition of seven parties could manage only two seats despite the wave.
Patnaik also kept the Left waiting and went alone to the polls, coming up with a near-sweep — 20 out of 21 seats (including leads till 8.00pm), while a still unattached Banerjee is set to win 34 seats (till 8.00pm).