The Trinamool Congress on Sunday wrested the Sabang constituency from the Congress, with its candidate Gita Rani Bhunia winning the by-poll by a margin of 64,192 votes.
The CPM candidate finished second with 41,989 votes while the BJP nominee came third after receiving 37,483 votes. The Congress candidate finished fourth with 18,063 votes and lost the deposit. The bypoll was held on December 21 and saw 84.5 per cent polling. Besides wresting the seat from the Opposition, TMC also increased its vote share by 15 per cent. Last year, it had received 36.60 per cent votes and finished second. This year, it has received 1,06,185 votes, 51.22 per cent of total votes polled.
In the 2016 Assembly election, Congress candidate Manas Bhunia won from Sabang with support from the Left Front. Bhuniya later switched to TMC, necessitating the bypoll. The TMC had fielded Bhunia’s wife Gita Rani Bhunia from this seat.
Gita managed to win the election by a better margin than her husband, who won by a margin of 49,167 votes.
Delighted by the result, TMC’s Rajya Sabha MP and former MLA Manas Bhunia said, “She (Gita) has won the election by a better margin and I accept my defeat. This win is for development, for progress and for communal harmony.”
TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee told reporters, “People of Sabang voted for development. Our candidate has won the election by a margin of about 65,000 votes. The Opposition parties are concerned about coming second or third. We are not concerned about who came second or third. Our aim is to continue developing the state and ensure jobs to youths of the state. This election also proved that people have supported our party chief Mamata Banerjee for her relentless fight against anti-people policies of the central government.”
CPM state secretary Surjyakanta Mishra said, “This result proved that the Left is the main Opposition party in the state and the only alternative to TMC. We are yet to get the full election result report but so far it has been established that the Left will give the ruling party a run for their money in the polls in the future. In Sabang, the TMC created a reign of terror. Our polling agents could not enter in about 69 polling stations. Despite this, our comrades put up a resistance. If free and fair poll was held, we would have received more votes,” Mishra told reporters.
The BJP too increased its vote share than last year. Having registered only 2.6 per cent votes in 2016, it received 18 per cent votes this year. “We never had such a strong presence in Sabang. Despite the reign of terror unleashed by TMC, we managed to increase our vote share,” state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said.
In Kanthi Dakshin (Contai South) Assembly bypoll, which was held in April this year, the Left Front had lost its second position to BJP, which increased its vote share to from 8.75 per cent in 2016 to 31 per cent. The Left had emerged third in Contai South, while TMC won the seat.
In 2016 Assembly election, the Left Front had lost its main Opposition position to Congress, in terms of number of MLAs, despite contesting the polls through an understanding with the Congress. The Left had won 32 seats, while Congress had won 44 seats.