The truth,if any,in the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjees assertion that the partys victory in the Howrah bypolls ushered in a new arithmetic and a new chapter in Bengal politics could be gauged by understanding two aspects. First,which of the three main parties in contention Trinamool,CPM and Congress bagged the minority votes as Howrah has a reasonable Muslim population; and secondly,how the BJPs absence from the poll fray shaped the Wednesdays outcome. Both aspects are crucial in the run-up to the next parliament polls.
An analysis of Howrah bypoll results show that the Trinamool Congress posted huge leads over its nearest rival,the CPM,in the two Assembly segments of Panchla and Central Howrah. Both the areas have good minority population. Panchla has at least 35 per cent minority voters,while in Central Howrah every three out of 10 voters is a Muslim.
At the same time,it is seen that areas with significant minority population also have a stronger BJP presence. For example,in districts like Malda,Murshidabad,North 24-Parganas and Cooch Behar all with significant Muslim presence have a dedicated voter base of the BJP.
In the bypoll,BJP did not put up its candidate but its state unit president Rahul Sinha had urged party supporters to neither vote for the CPM or the Congress,which meant that its supporters in most likelihood cast their votes for Trinamools Prasun Banerjee.
We have more than 50,000 voters in the constituency. Since we had withdrawn from the contest,a majority of our supporters did not go out and vote,and the polling percentage dipped, says Sinha,according to whom,the absence of the BJP helped the Trinamool retain the seat. Moreover,we have our floating voters who may have cast their votes in Trinamools favour, he adds.
However,Sinha says the Trinamool lost some support of the minority community in the CPM stronghold. The CPM campaigned that Trinamool has joined hands with the BJP. This may have disappointed some minority voters of Trinamool and they voted for the Marxists.
According to CPM candidate Sridip Bhattacharya,who lost by a margin of over 25,000 votes,BJPs absence helped the Trinamool win in two-three Assembly segments.
Of the seven Assembly segments in the parliamentary constituency,CPM led in two and put up a close fight in the third. In the rest,Trinamool was ahead. Trinamool gained in some of the minority pockets where BJP is supposed to have an influence. But there is an exception. Sankrail has a good number of minority population where the Left parties gained, says Sridip.
Trinamools minority face Sultan Ahmed,also an MP from the area,says the minority community stood firmly behind the party. We bagged the minority votes as shown in Panchla,which is dominated by Muslims. Opposition campaigned that we have allied with the BJP. Despite the political conspiracies,we won, he says.