Representational image | West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee after her election victory at her residence in Kolkata, West Bengal | Photo: Alok Nath Dey | ThePrint
Representational image | West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee after her election victory at her residence in Kolkata, West Bengal | Photo: Alok Nath Dey | ThePrint
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Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee secured her post after registering a record win at her home turf in Bhabanipur Sunday, with a margin of 58,832 votes. This is much higher than Banerjee’s earlier 2011 win record in the assembly constituency with 54,000 votes.

“We got a massive mandate this election, but there was a small hitch. I know how they (BJP) conspired. I would not comment on Nandigram results as it is sub judice now. But the people of Bhabanipur levelled it up. I am feeling content,” said Banerjee, announcing her victory at her residence.

“This is the first time we did not trail in any of eight wards. This seat has around 46 per cent non-Bengali population. But this time, all of them — Hindus and Muslims, Bengalis and non-Bengalis — reposed faith in Trinamool. I am grateful,” she added. Trinamool also won the assembly seats Jangipur and Samserganj in Murshidabad.

The BJP leadership in the state, meanwhile, defended their defeat by alleging that the Election Commission of India failed to establish an environment conducive to encouraging voters to cast their votes in Bhabanipur.

“In the middle of such intimidations, threats and tortures, our candidate gets 25,000 votes. It is no mean feat for us. Bhabanipur is Mamata Banerjee’s home constituency. She got her administration and entire police force to work for her. There has been unprecedented rigging, and the ECI could ensure safety to our leaders and candidate,” BJP MP Arjun Singh, who was in charge of the Bhabanipur bypoll, told ThePrint.

The violence witnessed in Bengal after the assembly elections in April was central to the BJP’s bypoll campaign, but the election results indicate that the campaign did not sway the electorate.

The party also fielded lawyer Priyanka Tibrewal as its candidate, who has been fighting the post-poll violence case in the Calcutta High Court and also managed to get CBI to investigate the case.

And yet, the BJP’s vote share dropped by almost half in five months. In the assembly poll, BJP had garnered 45,000 votes but managed to get only 25,000 in the bypoll.

According to Tibrewal, the party needs to work more on the organisation.

“We all know how the booths were rigged. We caught so many outsiders who posed as voters and they were aided by the police. We need to work a lot on our organisation, but I must say that Trinamool’s organisation is full of cheaters and hooligans,” she said, while addressing the media after the results.

Also read: Things changed because of her’ — Why Bhabanipur has voted for Mamata Banerjee since 2011

‘Reaffirmed faith of voters in Didi’

Senior Trinamool Congress leaders, meanwhile, called it a “re-affirmation of faith of all voters in Didi” and said that the party has proven its point that it has equal appeal among non-Bengali voters as well.

“The people of India now must appreciate that Mamata Banerjee is the only formidable face against Modi as the support for her appears to be absolute and total among all, irrespective of religion and language,” senior leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy told ThePrint.

Trinamool leaders also noted that the result will motivate leaders and workers inside and outside Bengal.

“The workers and supporters will feel emboldened with the results. It will help them work and connect better with people in the states, where we are yet to make a mark,” said Roy.

However, the bypoll result could trigger another round of defections from the BJP, according to party leaders.

“This may trigger more defection, but these opportunists would anyway jump ships. If an MP like Babul Supriyo, who was a central minister for seven years, can defect in four months of losing a cabinet berth, then there are such many smalltime politicians who are ready to be with the party in power after 2019 results, many such Trinamool MLAs joined us, and now they want to go back. we are not worried about that,” said former BJP state president and MP Dilip Ghosh.

On post-poll violence having no bearing on the results, Ghosh said, “The post-poll violence helped them win this big. Our voters did not even come out to vote. In the wards, where we were stronger, only 14 to 19 per cent people voted. But, in their strong wards, over 80 per cent votes were polled.”

“So, post poll violence obviously have an impact, but it is the other way round. She managed to scare voters, and the election commission failed to ensure security. The ECI was completely inactive when leaders like me or Arjun Singh were attacked. We did not find any central force there,” he told ThePrint.

Also read: Sat Sri Akal, Inshallah, Joy Durga — how Mamata’s speeches change with locality in Bhabanipur


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