Kolkata: Bouncing back after the Lok Sabha jitters, West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) won all three seats in the Assembly by-polls the results of which were declared Thursday. In the process, it snatched Kaliaganj and Kharagpur from its opponents while retaining the Karimpur Assembly constituency.
It was a disappointing day for the BJP, which not only failed to open its account, but also lost in two prestigious seats – Kalaiganj and Kharagpur – where its heavyweight candidates had taken massive leads during the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year.
The newly-stitched Congress-Left Front alliance also came a cropper, with its candidates forfeiting their security deposits in all the three seats that went to by-polls, November 25.
Elated over the results, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called it the ‘victory of ma, mati, manush (mother, land and people – Trinamool’s pet slogan)’ and dedicated it to the masses.
Banerjee was particularly happy about Kaliaganj and Kharagpur Sadar, which the party never managed to win since its formation in 1998.
After trailing the BJP in the initial rounds of counting, the TMC bounced back in Kaliaganj, where its candidate Tapan Deb Singha emerged victorious with a 2,414-vote margin.
BJP’s Kamal Chandra Sarkar took the second position, while Left Front backed Congress candidate Dhitasree Roy finished a distant third.
The by-poll was necessitated by the death of Roy’s father and sitting Congress legislator Pramathanath Roy.
In Kharagpur, after an up and down battle, TMC candidate Pradip Sarkar triumphed by a 20,853 vote margin over his closest rival BJP’s Prem Chandra Jha.
The Left Front-backed Congress contestant Chittaranjan Mondal, who had surged ahead after the opening round, ended a poor third getting a mere 14.8 per cent of the votes in the seat which had once been the party’s bastion till state BJP president Dilip Ghosh won in 2016.
The constituency in West Midnapore district went to the hustings after Ghosh got elected to the Lok Sabha from the Midnapore constituency earlier this year.
In Karimpur, TMC’s Bimalendu Sinha Roy humbled his nearest rival, state BJP vice-president Jay Prakash Majumder by over 24,000 votes.
In the run-up to the by-polls, the BJP leadership was extremely bullish about winning Kharagpur and Kaliaganj.
While Ghosh got a huge lead of over 45,000 from Kharagpur Sadar, present Union Minister Debosree Chowdhury had established a massive margin of about 57,000 votes in Kaliaganj on way to winning the Raiganj parliamentary seat for the saffron outfit.
Chowdhury and Ghosh had been camping in their respective strongholds as they led vigorous campaigns, making the election a prestige battle for the BJP.
Ghosh said organisational laggardness, overconfidence among the party workers and the way the Trinamool used the official machinery and police to terrorise people could have played crucial roles in shaping the outcome.
Banerjee meanwhile said the BJP is getting paid back for its ‘arrogance’ and for ‘insulting’ the people of the state.
“It just goes to show, how the BJP is paying for its arrogance. Their leaders feel that they can do anything and get away with it. This is what happens when you insult the people of West Bengal. The BJP has got what it deserves,” said Banerjee.