The TMC and the BJP-led NDA Tuesday swept the assembly bypolls in West Bengal and Assam, steamrollering the Opposition that crumbled before the ruling parties powered by redoubtable Mamata Banerjee and Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress got a ringing endorsement by the electors as it won all the four seats, including two that it wrested from the BJP, which surrendered rather meekly after a creditable performance in the March-April assembly elections when it won 77 of the 292 seats where polling was held.
TMC candidates not only polled more than one lakh votes each in Dinhata, Gosaba, Khardaha and Santipur, but also the party’s vote share stood at a staggering 75.02 per cent against BJP’s measly 14.48 per cent.
Udayan Guha, who wrested Dinhata seat vacated by Union Minister of State for Home, Sports and Youth Affairs Nisith Pramanik by a margin of over 1.64 lakh votes, polled 84 per cent votes against his BJP rival Ashok Mondal’s 11.31 per cent.
TMC’s Subrata Mondal trounced his BJP rival Palash Rana by over 1.43 lakh votes in Gosaba, clinching 87.19 per cent votes against a paltry 9.95 per cent polled by the saffron party candidate. TMC’s Braja Kishor Goswami wrested Santipur from the BJP, defeating Niranjan Biswas by 64,675 votes. Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, a Mamata Banerjee confidante who had vacated the Bhabanipur seat for her to contest in a by-poll earlier, won from Khardaha defeating his BJP rival Joy Sinha by 93,832 votes.
The TMC’s triumph not only added more insult to injury the BJP faced in the general election but also buttressed Banerjeee’s already strong claim to lead a broadbased anti-BJP opposition alliance, if at all it is formed ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
“My heartiest congratulations to all the four winning candidates! This victory is people’s victory, as it shows how Bengal will always choose development and unity over propaganda and hate politics. With people’s blessings, we promise to continue taking Bengal to greater heights!” Mamata Banerjee said in a twitter post.
Taking a dig at BJP’s defeat, her nephew and TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee tweeted, “A cracker free Diwali in true sense. Wishing folks at @BJP4India a very Happy Diwali!”
West Bengal BJP president Sukanta Majumdar blamed the defeat on the “reign of terror” unleashed by the TMC.
“Margin of more than one lakh in by-polls is unimaginable. We can very well understand the kind of terror that was unleashed by the ruling party to stop people from voting freely and fairly,” he said.
The resounding victory is expected to add more lusture to Banerjee’s personal charisma and public appeal as the TMC tries to expand beyond West Bengal to new territories like Goa and Tripura in the run up to the 2024 parliamentary elections.
Though Banerjee struck a heavy blow to the BJP in West Bengal, a charismatic Himanta Biswa Sarma led the NDA to a power-packed performance in neighbouring Assam, clinching all the five seats along with its ally UPPL.
The BJP won Bhabanipur, Mariani and Thowra seats, while the UPPL bagged Gossaigaon and Tamulpur in the Bodoland Territorial region. All NDA candidates won with impressive margins. The BJP had fielded Phanidhar Talukdar, who had left the AIUDF after getting elected to the assembly in the general election, from Bhabanipur and Congress defectors Rupjyoti Kurmi and Sushanta Borgohain from Mariani and Thowra.
In a reflection of the uncanny political sense of Sarma, who has emerged as the BJP’s pointsman for the entire northeast, all the three won.
The BJP and ally UPPL bagged around 54 per cent of votes polled.
“Today’s victory is both humbling & reassuring and we promise to continue path of Vikas as per vision of Hon PM Sri @narendramodi. My gratitude to people & our karyakarta.
“@TheUPPLOfficial is NDA’s valued partner & the win today highlights enormous faith of people in vision of Hon PM @narendramodi who is resolute in his commitment to take Assam to glorious heights,” Sarma wrote in a series of tweets.
Barring its abject defeat in West Bengal, the BJP and its allies were on song elsewhere in the east and the northeast where bypolls were held on October 30.
The Congress on Tuesday won the Mandi Lok Sabha and all three Assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh where the bypolls were held on October 30, a setback for the ruling BJP, with CM Jai Ram Thakur saying the party will introspect. The Mandi seat, which was earlier held by the BJP, was won by former chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s wife Pratibha Singh.
In Bihar, where Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) was locked in a prestige fight with Lalu Prasad’s RJD, the ruling party retained both the seats. It won Kusheshwar Asthan by a margin of over 12,000 votes and bagged Tarapur by more than 3,000 votes after a see-saw that lasted till the dying moments of counting.
The National People’s Party-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance won all the three seats in the state. The NPP of Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, a BJP ally, wrested Rajbala and Mawryngkneng seats from the Congress, while its alliance partner in MDA government United Democratic Party won Mawphlang.
The ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), also an NDA partner, won the bypoll to the Tuirial assembly seat in Mizoram, wresting it from the opposition Zoram People’s Front.
In a morale booster for Maharashtra’s ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi, Congress candidate Jitesh Antapurkar won the Deglug-Biloli assembly by-election in Nanded district with a huge margin. Of the total 12 candidates in the fray in the SC reserved seat, the MVA nominee Antapurkar secured around 108,840 votes compared with his nearest Bharatiya Janata Party rival Subhash Sabane getting 66,907 votes and the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi contender Dr. Uttam Ingole left trailing far behind along with the remaining 9 in the fray.
The BJP retained Khandwa Lok Sabha seat in Madhya Pradesh after securing a comfortable win in the bypoll with a margin of over 80,000 votes on Tuesday. BJP’s Gyaneshwar Patil defeated his nearest rival Raj Narayan Singh of the Congress. Congress won the Raigaon Assembly by-election in Madhya Pradesh by a margin of 12,096 votes, as per the results. Both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress had fielded woman candidates – Pratima Bagri, daughter-in-law of former BJP MLA Jugal Kishor Bagri – whose death necessitated the election, and Kalpana Verma, respectively.
With PTI inputs