BY-POLL 2022: TMC sweeps Bengal

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As Trinamool Congress swept the bypolls for both Asansol Lok Sabha and Ballygunge assembly constituencies in West Bengal on Saturday, the massive decline in vote share for the BJP in both these seats have kept the saffron camp worried with just around two years left for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

In the Ballygunge Assembly constituency, the BJP candidate, Keya Ghosh, finished third by managing only 12.8 per cent of the total votes polled.

In the 2021 Assembly elections, BJP’s Loknath Chatterjee not only finished second, but also secured 20.50 per cent votes.

However, despite Trinamool’s Babul Supriyo winning from Ballygunge, the party will ponder over its declining vote share there.

Supriyo’s victory margin came down to just 20,2208 votes, from the massive victory margin of 75,359 when the party’s erstwhile legislator from Ballygunge, late Subrata Mukherjee, won in 2021.

This time, Trinamool’s vote percentage declined to 49.7 per cent from 70.60 per cent in 2021.

However, CPI(M) has something to cheer going by the votes it polled in the Ballygunge bypolls. The CPI(M) candidate, Saira Shah Halim, not only finished second, but also improved her party’s vote share to 30.1 per cent from just 5.51 per cent in 2021.

More than Ballygunge Assembly seat, the real frustration for the BJP has come from the results in the Asansol Lok Sabha constituency, from where the BJP candidate had won twice — in 2014 and 2019.

This time, Trinamool’s Shatrughan Sinha won by a massive margin of 3,03,209 votes, creating two records on behalf of his party.

Sinha is not only the first ever Trinamool Congress candidate to win from Asansol since the creation of this Lok Sabha constituency, his margin surpassed all past records from Asansol on this count.

The victory margin of Sinha is even more significant since in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the then BJP candidate, Babul Supriyo, won from Asansol by a margin of 1.97 lakh votes.

Political analysts believe that bagging a victory margin of over 3 lakh votes after covering up a past backlog of around 2 lakh votes is something quite rare.

The Asansol results show substantial improvement in Trinamool’s vote share against a landslide vote share decline for the BJP.

In Asansol, the Trinamool improved its vote share to 56 per cent from 35.19 per cent in 2019. On the other hand, BJP’s vote share declined to just 30 per cent this time from 51.16 per cent in 2019.

The CPI(M) managed 7.8 per cent vote share from Asansol this time, which is more or less the same the party had got in 2019 — 7 per cent.

The fact that the decline in vote share is a matter of concern for the BJP was indirectly accepted by the party’s defeated candidate from Asansol, Agnimitra Paul.

“Just two years are left for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The party leadership should introspect the reasons behind this disaster and work accordingly. I do not want to give any excuse for my defeat. I accept the people’s verdict,” said Paul, who is already a sitting BJP legislator from Asansol (South) Assembly constituency.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

Meanwhile, BJP’s Lok Sabha member from Bishnupur in Bankura district, Saumitra Khan, said that the ‘immature’ approach of the saffron leadership in West Bengal led to such a disaster.

After the victory in the bypolls, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee indirectly hinted that playing a key role at the national level in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls is her next target.

“I request the people of the country to have faith in us,” she said.

Political analysts believe that since the 2021 West Bengal Assembly pols, the erosion in vote share of the BJP has just aggravated and the erosion in the bypolls will send an alarming signal to the saffron camp.

“It seems that no strategy or line of campaigning is working in favour of the BJP. Remember, the bypolls happened in the backdrop of so many issues, such as the Bogtui massacre and the Hanskhali minor rape-muder case. But nothing worked for the BJP, which is officially the principal opposition party in the state now,” said political analyst, Nirmalya Banerjee.