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Bengal bypolls: Mamata wins, BJP bites dust

Bengal bypolls: Mamata wins, BJP bites dust
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The BJP’s attempts at trying to upstage the Mamata Banerjee- led Trinamool Congress in Bengal was dealt a big blow. Trinamool Congress romped home on Monday in  both Bongaon Lok Sabha and Krishnaganj Assembly seats with huge margins in the bypolls seen as a litmus test for its popularity amid murmurs of dissidence.

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.

What is even more impressive about this victory for the TMC is that it went through these by-polls without the support of long-time Mamata aide and party general secretary Mukul Roy.  

There were cracks in their long time association after the CBI interrogated him on January 30 in connection with the Saradha scam. He was subsequently let off  by the agency, ostensibly at the behest of the BJP-led Centre.

For the BJP, however, these results came as a rude awakening for the party’s prospects in West Bengal. After relative success in the Lok Sabha elections and subsequent Basirhat South assembly by-poll last year, the BJP was looking to continue its winning ways in the state. The results were a major disappointment for the party top brass, which had pulled out all stops to win Bongaon.

Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee termed the results as “a miracle” and said the party is “intact and strong”. The Chief Minister, 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 TMC substantially increased its victory margin compared to 2014 when it had won by 1,46000 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.

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