In a boost to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, her Trinamool Congress party was on Thursday poised to make a clean sweep of the bi-elections to the three seats wresting one each from the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress and retaining its hold on another.
The bypolls were held on Monday in Kharagpur Sadar, Karimpur and Kaliaganj assembly constituencies where the Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party were locked in a close contest. The Trinamool Congress bagged Kaliaganj and Kharagpur Sadar seats and established an unassailable lead in Karimpur constituency.
Tapan Deb Sinha of the Trinamool Congress won the Kaliaganj seat in a close contest, defeating his nearest BJP rival Kamal Chandra Sarkar by 2,418 votes, EC officials said. In the parliamentary polls held in April-May this year, the BJP had won from Kaliaganj assembly segment which is part of much larger Lok Sabha constituency of Raiganj once represented by Priyaranjan Dasmunsi.
Congress's Paramathanath Roy had won the Kaliaganj seat in the last assembly election held in 2016. This time, the Congress fielded his daughter Dhritashree who finished a poor third. Trinamool candidate Pradip Sarkar wrested Kharagpur Sadar seat from the BJP. He defeated Premchandra Jha of the saffron party by a comfortable margin of 20,788 votes.
The loss in Kharagpur Sadar came as a blow for the BJP whose West Bengal unit President Dilip Ghosh had won it in 2016 but had to vacate the seat after he got elected to the Lok Sabha from Kharagpur in April-May this year. Bimalendu Sinha Roy of Trinamool in Karimganj has established a lead of more than 23,000 votes over his BJP rival Jaiprakash Majumdar and is all set to retain the seat for his party.
Karimganj assembly seat fell vacant when Trinamool’s Mohua Mitra vacated it after she was elected to the Lok Sabha from Krishnanagar constituency. This is for the first time that the Trinamool has bagged the Kaliaganj and Karimpur seats. The bye-election results today came as a boost to Mamata’s party which had faced a serious challenge from the BJP in the parliamentary elections six months ago. The saffron party put up an impressive show in national elections in West Bengal winning 18 of the 42 seats while Trinamool’s tally came down from 34 in 2014 to 24 this year.
Dedicating the party's bypoll victory to the people of West Bengal, Mamata said voters had ‘paid back’ the BJP for its ‘arrogance of power’. "We dedicate this victory to the people of Bengal. The BJP is getting paid back for its arrogance of power and for insulting the people of Bengal," she told a TV news channel.
Mamata came to power in West Bengal in May 2011 after defeating 34 years of uninterrupted Left rule and has been fighting to retain her grip on the state in the face of an aggressive BJP chipping away at her strongholds. She said the BJP's constant talk of extending the National Register for Citizens across India to weed out illegal migrants has cost it the bypolls.
"So much arrogance and pride is not good. The BJP is too arrogant and proud. Sometimes they are saying NRC, sometimes they are saying they will evict people and then give citizenship rights," Mamata said. “This result's message is clear, people are saying goodbye to the BJP,” she added.