The overwhelming victory for the Trinamool Congress in the KMC polls came with a minor jolt to the party with it losing four important municipal wards — all falling in Bhawanipore and Rashbehari state assembly segments. Two of these four wards fall in Bhawanipore, the Assembly constituency of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Bhawanipore has eight KMC wards, among which Trinamool has lost two — Wards 70 and 77. While Wards 70, 86 and 87 were won by BJP candidates, Ward 77 went to Forward Bloc’s Shamima Rehan Khatun.
This after the party mobilised its best leaders — Firhad Hakim, Baishwanar Chatterjee, Sovan Deb Chattopadhyay, Subrata Mukherjee and Subrata Bakshai — to campaign for the polls. Mamata’s family members, including her brothers Kartik, Ganesh and Swapan Banerjee with nephew Abhishek Banerjee, too had held several public rallies in these areas.
Bhawanipore and Rashbehari have long been considered as TMC’s strongest citadel. But the BJP had gained ground in these wards in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. A close look at the results in these wards indicated that BJP has managed to maintain its 2014 winning margin in these areas.
“This has made the joy of winning bitter,” said a south Kolkata Trinamool leader, who feared that the party will conduct a post poll post-mortem and fix responsibility for the losses.
Former KMC chairman and TMC leader, Sachchidananda Banerjee, lost to BJP’s Ashim Bose in Ward 70. Bose won the ward — falling in Bhawanipore constituency — by a margin of 1,978 votes. In 2014 polls, BJP had led the ward with around 3,000 votes.
Senior Trinamool leader Baiswanar Chatterjee attributed the defeat to increasing “Gujarati voters” in the area. “More than 50 per cent of the voters here are Gujaratis. They are Hindi speaking people and naturally, are inclined towards BJP… The media is after Ward 70 but it is not saying that we have won most of the wards in Bhawanipore.”
Regarding Ward 77, Chatterjee said: “This is a traditional seat of the Left Front and it had earlier won the ward.”
Trinamool has also suffered defeat in Ward 87 — the ward of former mayor and Cabinet minister Subrata Mukherjee. The party had fielded his sister Taniya Chatterjee from the ward.
She lost to BJP candidate Subrata Ghosh, who won by only 327 votes. In 2014 elections, BJP had led the ward by 1,288 votes. Ghosh, a former RSS activist, said: “In my ward, the turnout was only 52 per cent as people could not come out to cast their votes. The ruling party too has a strong presence here. However, we still won.” In Ward 86, BJP candidate Teesta Biswas won.
Trinamool faced defeat in two more important wards. While former deputy mayor Farzana Alam lost to Left candidate in Ward 65, TMC leader Paresh Pal was defeated by Congress councillor Prakash Upadhyay in Ward 29 by 8,056 votes.
CPM leader and Leader of Opposition in KMC, Rupa Bagchi, lost Ward 32 to Trinamool’s Shanti Ranjan Kundu. While Kundu attributed the victory to the “flood of development by TMC government”, Bagchi said: “The locals are more upset than me with the result. They too cannot believe this. But we will not resist the force of the thousands of outsiders and hooligans who captured booths and did not allow people to vote.”