While counting is going on for the results of the by-elections held on 25 November in the three Assembly seats of West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress has already won two of the seats and is leading in the third by a big margin. The BJP, which had emerged as the main rival of the TMC in the State during the Lok Sabha election, has suffered a setback in these three Assembly by-elections. Reacting to the results, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, “This is the victory of those who sidelined the Bharatiya Janata Party.”
Mamata Banerjee said this was the victory of the people, “this is the victory of development”. She said, “The politics of hate does not work. People have rejected the BJP.” The chief minister explained the results by saying the people had voted against the BJP because the party that won the Centre was seeking proof of citizenship from them, referring to the NRC.
Mamata Banerjee has been a vocal critic of the NRC. She raised her voice against the exercise to a crescendo after the final list of the register was released on 31 August and Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that the exercise would be repeated in the whole country. Political observers believe that a reason for Mamata’s heightened concern, besides her vote-bank of Muslims, is that many in Assam who could not make it to the list are moving to West Bengal.
The TMC has won the Kaliyaganj Assembly seat in north Bengal and the Kharagpur Sadar seat in West Midnapore district. It has won these seats for the first time. TMC candidates are leading in the Karimpur seat of Nadia district.
Tapan Deb Sinha of the TMC defeated BJP’s Kamal Chandra Sarkar by 2,304 votes in Kaliaganj seat whereas TMC was leading in Kharagpur Sadar and Karimpur by 15,000 and 28,000 votes respectively. It now seems impossible that the BJP can wrest the Karimpur seat from the TMC. Interestingly, the BJP was leading in the Kaliaganj and Karimpur seats until 2 PM.
A total of 18 candidates contested the three seats in Bengal. The candidates of Trinamool Congress, BJP, CPI and Congress tried their luck. Independents also presented a challenge in the election field.
According to the Election Commission, the voting percentage in the three by-elections in West Bengal was 75.34%.
Meanwhile, in the Pithoragarh seat of Uttarakhand, after a close fight between the BJP and INC, BJP’s candidate Chandra Pant defeated Congress’s Anju Lunthi by 3,267 votes.