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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Santipur bypoll vote share makes CPM rethink on alliance with Congress

The CPM fielded a candidate in Santipur and the move seemed to have fetched the desired electoral dividend as Soumen Mahato received 39958 votes, accounting for 19.57% of the total vote share.

Written by Atri Mitra | Kolkata |
Updated: November 6, 2021 1:02:00 am
Trinamool Congress, Nadia, Santipur, CPM, Congress, Bypolls, Soumen Mahato, Assembly elections, West Bengal, Kolkata, TMCWest Bengal BJP president Sukanta Majumdar said that a “free, fair and peaceful” election was not possible under the state police. (Representational File Photo)

The thumping win by the Trinamool Congress in four Assembly constituencies that went to bypolls on October 30 has got political observers talking not only about the huge drop in the BJP’s vote share but also a likely new twist to the poll equations between the CPM and the Congress in the light of the outcome in Nadia’s Santipur segment.

Unlike the Assembly polls held earlier this year, the CPM fielded a candidate in Santipur and the move seemed to have fetched the desired electoral dividend as its candidate — popular leader Soumen Mahato — received 39958 votes, accounting for 19.57% of the total vote share. In fact, the CPM’s tally was just 7,500 short of the BJP, which finished second.

In May, the CPI(M) had not contested from Santipur, but instead allotted to the alliance partner Congress. The CPI(M), Congress and the Indian Secular Front (ISF) had contested the Assembly polls together. The gambit failed as the Congress nominee bagged 9,848 votes, or just 4.48% of the total votes polled.

In the October 30 bypoll, the Congress, which chose to contest alone, saw its vote share slip even further to just 1.40%.

CPM sources said the gains from Santipur has already sparked a debate within on whether the party should fight future poll battles in alliance with the Congress or mobilise movements of its own against the Trinamool and BJP.

While it’s not clear if the Congress followed the alliance dharma by not fielding candidates in the remaining three seats — Dinhata, Gosaba and Khardah — in the bypolls, it is evident that the Left Front attracted almost the same percentage of votes as it did in the Assembly elections back in May in the three seats.

In Dinhata and Gosaba, Left Front partners Forward Bloc and the RSP got 2.79% and 1.66%  votes respectively in the bypolls, marking a slight increase and decrease in its vote share in these two seats from 2.49% in the Assembly polls.

In Khardah, the CPM’s vote share in the October 30 bypoll dropped to 10.39%  from 14.7 per cent in May 2021.

While the Congress planned on fielding a candidate to contest Santipur in the 2021 Assembly polls on behalf of the ‘Sanjukta Morcha’, the CPM had started painting wall graffiti on the behalf of their preferred candidate. However, the CPM pulled out of the contest later following an agreement with the Congress.

Post the bypoll result, a section in the CPM is of the opinion that the party will not only gain much more electorally by going it alone in future polls but will also win back the votes that went to Trinamool and BJP in the last few elections.

However, there’s another section  which feels that Santipur cannot be taken as a template for future polls. A senior CPM leader said, “Some of our leaders think that the Left Front will gain much more by going it alone in West Bengal. However, the claim is debatable. One bypoll result isn’t enough to reach that conclusion.”

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