‘People’s magic,’ says Mamata Banerjee as Trinamool wins bypolls in West Bengal

By-elections are being held to the Krishnaganj Assembly seat and the Bongaon Lok Sabha seat.

By: Press Trust of India | Kolkata | Updated: February 16, 2015 8:03:21 pm
TMC, west bengal bypolls TMC Supporters jubilate after their victory in Bongaon parliamentary by-election in North 24 Pargana district. (Source: PTI photo)

Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee today termed her party’s victory in the by-election as “a miracle” and said the party is “intact and strong”.

The ruling-Trinamool retained both Bongaon Lok Sabha and Krishnaganj Assembly seats with huge margins in the bypolls seen as a litmus test for its popularity in the wake of CBI arresting several of its leaders in Saradha scam and murmurs of dissidence.

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The convincing victory of TMC candidate Mamatabala Thakur in the Bongaon (SC) Lok Sabha seat with a margin of more than 2,11,794 votes came as a big relief for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as the bypoll was dubbed as a prestige fight after state minister Manjul Krishna Thakur quit here government and the party and joined BJP.

Manjul had accusing the TMC led-government of not doing enough for the Matua community, which forms a major chunk of the electorate in the constituency.

While Mamatabala Thakur secured 5,39,990 votes, her nearest rival CPI(M)’s Debesh Das received 3,28,196 votes.

Manjul’s son Subrata Thakur, who was BJP’s candidate in Bongaon Lok Sabha seat, secured 3,14,119 votes.

The Congress stood fourth in this constituency.

The party retained Krishnaganj assembly seat by a margin of 37,033 votes with its candidate Satyajit Biswas securing 95,469 votes.

Biswas defeated his BJP rival Manabendra Roy, who secured 58,436 votes. The CPI(M) was relegated to the third position with 37,620 votes in contrast to the second position it held in the last assembly elections.

Banerjee, who was speaking to the media while touring Purulia district, said the results were people’s “rejection of the conspiracy by Delhi and a slanderous campaign by the BJP and a section of the media”.

In Bongaon, the Trinamool Congress substantially increased its victory margin compared to 2014 when it had won by 1,46,000 votes. There was also a rise in the party’s vote in Krishnaganj seat.

The bypoll results also assume significance ahead of this years’s elections to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and about 80 municipalities across the state and the assembly polls to be held next year.

In the wake of the arrest of several TMC leaders and state minister Madan Mitra by the CBI in connection with the Saradha chitfund scam, the victory in both the seats will be a shot in the arm for Mamata Banerjee, who in recent months accused the BJP of trying to politically use the investigating agency to corner her party in West Bengal.

The leadership will be hoping that the result will also send out a message in the party rank and file both in rural and urban Bengal where several instances of dissidence have been witnessed in the recent past.

Since the victory of TMC in 2011, the party for the first time went to polls without the active participation of party’s general secretary Mukul Roy whose wings were recently clipped in an organisational reshuffle in TMC.

The defeat of BJP in both the seats came as a jolt to the party’s prospects in Bengal, where it has been aiming to increase its mass base after its good show in last Lok Sabha polls and by winnig the Basirhat South assembly segment in a by-poll last year.

The BJP being relegated to the third position comes as a disappointment for the party top brass, which had pinned high hopes on Bongaon seat.

The opposition Left Front, which has been the biggest casualty in these polls, has not only ceded much of its political ground but is fast losing its opposition space to the BJP in Krishnaganj.

Although CPI(M) was able to maintain its number two position in a neck and neck fight with BJP, its vote share dwindled significantly from 4,04,612 votes to 3,28,196.

The Congress which failed to make any impact in the polls was virtually reduced to a non-entity as it managed to secure only 29,000 votes in Bongaon and 4,500 votes in Krishnaganj.

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