KOLKATA: A day after registering a thumping victory in Bhowanipore by-election, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday visited a non-Bengali-dominated area in the constituency and thanked voters for her victory.
This area — Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s wards No 70 and No 74 — is said to be the BJP’s stronghold. Mamta also visited a gurudwara and interacted with people.
In the high-decibel Bhowanipore bypoll, the saffron camp received an unexpected blow in its strongholds as Mamata made deep inroads into the zones inhabited by non-Bengali speaking people.
In the two pockets dominated by the electorates whose mother tongue is not Bengali, the BJP had secured the leads of 2,092 votes and 537 votes respectively in the 2021 assembly elections.
However, in the bypoll, the saffron camp trailed behind by 1,556 votes in ward No 70 and 4,979 votes in ward No 74.
“We never expected such a setback in the pockets which have proved loyal to us in the previous polls. Considering the polling rate of around 57 per cent, the leading margin of Mamata Banerjee from these two wards was significant. Had we been able to retain our vote-bank, she could not have won with a record margin,” said a BJP leader.
Mamata registered victory in the bypoll with a margin of 58,835 votes, which has been the highest in Bhowanipore.
The saffron camp’s vote-share in Bhowanipore, which is known as a mini-India because of the colourful characters of electorates, dropped to 22.29 per cent from 35.17 per cent in the recent assembly polls.
“This is the first time in the past six years, our party bagged lead from ward No 70. This was possible because of Mamata’s aggressive campaign in the non-Bengali-dominated zones. She addressed rallies in the areas where people from Gujarat, Punjab, UP and Bihar reside,’’ said a TMC leader.
In two other constituencies, Samsherganj and Jangipur where elections were held on September 30, the BJP’s performance was quite unimpressive compared to its show in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress supremo, went to the famous Sitala temple at Bhabanipur in south Kolkata and offered puja.
She was accompanied by her nephew and the party's national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee.
She, Abhishek and other party leaders then went to a nearby gurudwara on foot, covering a distance of nearly a kilometre.
Wearing a scarf covering her head, the TMC boss offered her prayers and spoke to devotees and the priest there.
While campaigning for the by-poll last month, Banerjee had visited the temple and the gurudwara and a mosque in the constituency.
She won by-poll with a record margin of 58,835 votes, defeating her nearest rival Priyanka Tibrewal of the BJP.
The TMC supremo needed to win it to continue as the chief minister.
Banerjee, a resident of Bhabanipur, had won the seat in 2011 and 2016.
However, in the assembly election held earlier this year, she contested from Nandigram, where the anti-farmland acquisition movement against the Left Front government had transformed her into a major political force in the state, to dare her protege turned adversary Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP in his home turf.
Though she powered the TMC to a resounding win for a third straight term in office, she lost to Adhikari by a narrow margin, and challenged the result in the Calcutta High Court.
The case is pending.
(With PTI Inputs)