With CPM and Congress joining forces in the coming Maheshtala Assembly bypoll, it will be a test for the BJP to grab the second position in a three-way contest, something it has been able to do in recent elections only in four-corner contests.
In the 2016 Assembly polls, the Left Front and Congress had a so-called “understanding”, which helped them together win 76 seats. And in 195 of the 294 Assembly seats, one of them always came in second. The BJP could garner only three seats and polled in the second position in only six of the 294 seats.
In elections where the Left and Congress went in alone, creating a four-corner contest, the BJP came in second on most occasions.
The Maheshtala Assembly seat in South 24 Parganas district fell vacant after the death of its two-time representative TMC’s Kasturi Das in February this year. The seat had been a CPM bastion till 2011 when it lost to the Trinamool Congress, which grabbed power in the state. Das defeated CPM’s candidate by 24,283 votes. In 2016, she returned to defeat the party again by 12,452 votes. In contrast, the BJP received 3,689 votes in 2011 and 14,909 votes in 2016. The bypoll is scheduled for May 28 and counting will be on May 31.
While Kasturi Das’s husband Dulal Das will be the TMC face, the Left Front will go with CPM’s Prabhat Chowdhury. The BJP has not named a candidate yet.
West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said his party’s show in the recent elections was good. “It will not make much of a difference,” he said. “Moreover the Congress has lost its credibility. On one hand it is seeking support from TMC to send its candidate (Abhishek Manu Singhvi) to Rajya Sabha from West Bengal and on the other they are joining hands with the CPM to deter us from bagging the second position. So we do not need to lose our sleep over this development.”
A senior BJP further said the party will increase its vote share during the Maheshtala bypolls.