Bengal: By-election told how much water the opposition


The BJP, which was giving a tough competition to Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress in the assembly elections held a few months ago, looked completely weak in the by-election. The entire opposition in the state was helpless in front of Mamata Banerjee. All eyes were on the Bhawanipur seat of Kolkata. Here Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was the only Trinamool Congress candidate. Keeping in mind about 46 per cent non-Bengali population of the area, BJP had fielded a Hindi-speaking Priyanka Tibrewal here. Mamata’s victory in this seat is not news. No one is surprised by their huge margin of victory. Voters also knew that they were voting for the Chief Minister. But the results of the by-elections in Bhawanipur and the remaining two seats have exposed the current face of opposition politics in the state. Battling a change in leadership and internal factionalism, the BJP, till just six months ago, seemed to be giving a tough challenge to the TMC. But his account could not even be opened in the by-election. The number of its MLAs is also continuously decreasing. The saffron party, which won 77 seats in the April-May assembly elections, now has only 70 MLAs left. The Congress saved its shame by deciding not to field candidates in Bhawanipur. But the CPM candidate got in trouble and got only 2700 votes more than NOTA. In many rounds, the party was even behind NOTA. Mamata’s victory The by-election to the Bhawanipur assembly seat had become a question of nose and credibility for the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC). Actually, the question in Bhawanipur was never whether Mamta would win or not. The biggest question here was that by how many votes will she win? Mamta has won by a margin of about 59 thousand votes.

Earlier in the by-election held in the year 2011, she had won here by about 54 thousand votes. In the year 2016, his margin of victory was about 25 thousand, while in the elections held in April this year, TMC candidate Shobhandev Chatterjee won by about 29 thousand votes. It is clear from this that now the margin of victory is more than double. After her record victory, Mamta said, “The people of Bhawanipur have given a befitting reply to the Nandigram conspiracy.” It is pertinent to mention here that in a tight contest in Nandigram, Mamata lost to BJP candidate Shubhendu Adhikari by 1,956 votes. However, she has challenged this result in the High Court and the matter is sub-judice. By-elections were held in two seats – Jangipur and Shamsherganj, which were also won by TMC by a huge margin. Caste Equation Bhawanipur area is called ‘Mini India’ because of the diversity of its population. About 46 per cent of the area is non-Bengali and 20 per cent minority. Mamta claimed that this time she has got equal support from all sections of the people. Analysis of the election results makes Mamata’s claim correct. During the assembly elections in April last, the party’s candidate Shobhandev Chatterjee got here 57.71 Percentage votes were received while Mamta got 71.91 percent votes, which means about 25 percent increase has been registered in the votes received by the party.On the other hand, in the last election here BJP candidate got 35.16 percent votes while now party candidate Priyanka Had to be satisfied with only 22.29 percent votes . The worst situation was that of CPM candidate Shreejiv Biswas.

He could get only 3.56 percent of the vote. However, Srijeev, who was behind even the votes of NOTA for the first several rounds, can be satisfied that in the end there was a difference of about 27 hundred votes between him and the votes cast in the note. In the last assembly elections, the candidate of Left-Congress alliance got 4.09 percent or about one thousand votes more. Now the question is arising that the CPM, which was out of power in the year 2011, has become completely irrelevant in the politics of Bengal? Senior party leader Rabin Deb says, “Our performance in the assembly elections was very poor and the account was not even opened. Now we could not get a chance to organize before the by-polls to be held in less than six months. But the result was so much. Didn’t expect it to get worse.” They allege that the entire government machinery had entered the fray to make the Chief Minister win. Had we fielded a candidate, it would have got many times more votes. The results of Shamsherganj and Jangipur are proof of this. This shows that our party is still relevant in Bengal politics.” Before the by-election in Bhawanipur seat, internal strife in the BJP was also intensifying. While Asansol MP Babul Supriyo joined the TMC just before the voting, suddenly the state president Dilip Ghosh was removed before the completion of the term. In his place, Balurghat MP Sukant Majumdar was given this responsibility. It is clear from this rapidly changing development that the BJP has never been in a position to challenge. Even during the election campaign, apart from Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Smriti Irani, no big leader was seen here. As far as giving ticket to Priyanka Tibrewal is concerned, the party had no other option.


Earlier many big names including Mithun Chakraborty were persuaded to enter the fray in Bhawanipur. But everyone raised their hands. In the end, Priyanka, who had lost the first two elections, was fielded. Keeping in mind the caste equations of the area, the party hoped that even if she could not win, she could give a big fight to Mamta. But it is clear from the results that all the equations of the party got messed up. However, after the results, now the party leaders are raising allegations of electoral rigging. During the voting, the party had sent about two dozen complaints to the Election Commission. But the commission dismissed them as baseless. Face of Opposition Kya Bhawanipur’s massive victory has made Mamata Banerjee the most important face of opposition politics ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Apart from TMC leaders, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav believes so at least. While congratulating him on the victory, Akhilesh Yadav has described Mamta as the face of the opposition alliance. Dozens of leaders including NCP leader Sharad Pawar, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, Jharkhand’s Hemant Soren and Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Anand Sharma have congratulated Mamata on her victory. Senior TMC leader Firhad Hakim says, “Mamata has started the anti-Modi journey with her massive victory in Bhawanipur. People from all walks of life have supported her. Hence she is now the biggest face of anti-Modi. But no question can be raised.” But BJP’s new state president Sukant Majumdar disagrees. He says, “There is no match for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity. That’s why Mamta’s dream of becoming the Prime Minister will remain a mere dream.



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