KOLKATA: Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress secured a sweeping victory in three Assembly constituencies in the byelections with impressive margins. The ruling party’s supremo dedicated the victory to the people of the state and said the BJP is getting paid back for its arrogance and divisive politics in the name of religion. She also said the byelection results reflected a mandate against the NRC.
Leaders from both the Trinamool and BJP admitted that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) issue played a crucial role in the by-elections. In a bid to consolidate the Hindu votes, the Bengal BJP highlighted the NRC issue and Mamata, too, used it as a political tool to combat the saffron camp’s inroads in the state, portraying the plight of more than 19 lakh people, mostly Hindus, in neighbouring Assam.
"This is a victory in favour of secularism and unity. It is a mandate against the NRC. The BJP is getting paid back by its arrogance of power and insulting the people of the state. People, who were misled in the Lok Sabha elections, have rejected the BJP. The people, irrespective of their caste, creed and groups, voted for us,’’ said Mamata.
The Trinamool bagged victory in Kharagpur (Sadar) and Kaliaganj Assembly seats for the first time with margins of 20,811 and 2304 votes respectively and retained Karimpur. Losing Kharagpur (Sadar) seat is said to be a massive blow to the saffron camp as the party’s state president Dilip Ghosh was elected from the constituency in the 2016 Assembly polls and the BJP had secured an impressive margin of more than 45,000 votes from here in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The BJP’s defeat in Kaliaganj seat in north Bengal is also being considered a major setback as the Union minister and MP from Raiganj Debasree Chaudhury had bagged a lead of more than 56,000 votes from this constituency in the Lok Sabha polls. The saffron storm in north Bengal had caused a massive jolt to the ruling party as the BJP won seven Lok Sabha seats out of eight in the northern part of Bengal.
Referring to the NRC issue, the BJP’s candidate in Kaliaganj Kamal Chandra Sarkar said, "We failed to take the people into confidence. The issue played an important role as my constituency has a sizable percentage of Rajbanshi voters who had supported us in the Lok Sabha polls but shifted their loyalty to the Trinamool in the byelections."
BJP’s national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who is also in charge of Bengal, said the results of the byelection are a reflection of Trinamool’s misrule in Bengal. "The central forces were not used by the district administration. Several booths were occupied by the ruling party’s cadres to cast false votes. Had there been fair elections, the results would have been different," he said.
The Left-Congress alliance did not work in the byelections. It failed to secure even second position in the three constituencies.
"We agreed for the alliance shortly before the byelections. In the Lok Sabha polls, the people rejected the Trinamool. In the byelections, they rejected the BJP. It is clear that neither the BJP nor Trinamool is their choice. In future, we will get the people’s support," said CPI(M)’s central committee member Sujan Chakrabarty.