The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Thursday swept the Maheshtala Assembly bypoll with a margin of 62,765 votes — over five times what it had in 2016, when it had won by 12,452 votes. The BJP came a distant second, but increased its vote share TMC retains Maheshtala Assembly seat with better margin, BJP distant second from 14,909 in 2016 to 42,053. Despite receiving support from the Congress, the Left’s votes dropped by 25 per cent from 81,223 to 30,384.
TMC candidate Dulal Chandra Das received 1,04,818 votes (58.13 per cent), BJP’s Sujit Ghosh got 42,053 votes (23.28 per cent) and CPM’s Prabhat Choudhury received 30,384 votes (16.8 per cent). “This is a victory for the development initiatives of Mamata Banerjee. In the next polls we will further increase our winning margin,” said Das. The bypoll was necessitated by the death of his spouse, Kasturi Das.
Trinamool Congress chief and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called the victory a “message and a lesson” for regional parties ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. “The people are with us. Two years back, the winning margin was over 12,000, today it is over 60,000 votes. This is despite canards spread against us by the Opposition daily,” said Mamata, speaking to mediapersons in Darjeeling.
“Despite putting Lalu Prasad Yadav behind bars, RJD won in Bihar. RLD won in Uttar Pradesh. JMM won. Shiv Sena did well, but lost by a narrow margin. As I have said earlier, all regional parties should combine from their position of strength in their respective areas and take on BJP and communal forces. Look at Uttar Pradesh, BJP is losing one poll after another to an alliance. There, Mayawati, Akhilesh and others joining hands. People are not with BJP,” she added.
BJP candidate Ghosh said the party had tried, but could not reach out to the masses. “We have done relatively well since the last polls. However, we could not reach out to the masses,” he said. CPM candidate Choudhury reiterated the sentiment, saying, “We tried but it seems that we could not reach out to the people. Added to this was the money power of Trinamool Congress and BJP both.”
Shibaji Pratim Basu, head of the department of political science at Vidyasagar University, said, “For BJP it is a major hike in votes as well as vote share. But it is nowhere to challenge TMC. One thing is certain. Baam is becoming Ram. Which means BJP is draining the Left vote share and emerging as the prime opposition party.” “There is a considerable minority population in the Assembly constituency who seemed to have gone for TMC en masse. In the upcoming polls (Lok Sabha 2019), in many seats, minority votes (which is around 30 per cent in Bengal) will play a crucial role,” Basu added.
Left Front chairman Biman Bose, however, said 25 booths had been rigged. “TMC and BJP co-ordinated and rigged those booths and looted the votes. That is why the votes went to them. Our agents were not allowed there,” said Bose. Security for the Maheshtala bypoll was overseen by 12 companies of central forces, and polling concluded without incident. In contrast, the recently-held panchayat elections were marred by violence which took the lives of over a dozen people on poll day (May 14).
2016 Assembly polls
Party ———- votes ——- vote share
TMC — ——- 93,675——- 48.60%
CPIM———— 81,223—— 42.20%
BJP ————- 14,909——- 7.70%
2018 Assembly bypoll
Party ———— votes —- vote share
BJP – 42,053 ——————23.28%