TMC sweeps West Bengal by-elections; victory of people, says Mamata

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Benerjee during Lok Sabha election campaign in Visakhapatnam, Sunday, March 31, 2019. Photo: PTI
For the first time after the formation of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) 22 years back, the party has won the Kharagpur Sadar and Kaliaganj seats and retained its hold over the Karimpur seat in the Assembly by-poll elections.

The opposition BJP drew a blank in all of the three seats which went for the by-polls and lost the prestigious Kharagpur Sadar seat which was vacated after Dilip Ghosh, BJP’s state president won the Lok Sabha election from the Medinipur constituency.

The Kharagpur Sadar traditionally had been a Congress bastion with the party posting repeated wins till it was toppled by the BJP in the 2016 Assembly elections by Ghosh. In case of Kaliaganj, the Congress had won this seat 11 times since independence while the Left Front managed to control it thrice. After the Left Front lost in 2011, its allegiance had been strong towards the Congress till it shifted in favour of the TMC this year.

In total, the TMC's vote share stood at 47.5 per cent while the BJP managed to get a 39.3 per cent vote share and the Congress and the Left Front managed at a distant 7.2 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively.

"People of all caste, creed, communities and background have voted for us. This is the victory of the people and is on account of our good governance and connect with the people. 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," the state’s chief minister and TMC supremo, Mamata Banerjee said.

In the early hours of counting, Prem Chandra Jha, BJP's candidate from Kharagpur was leading while in Kaliaganj, the Congress was the lead party. As the counting progressed, the margin of votes widened and it seemed the TMC will lose both the Kharagpur and Kaliaganj seats. However, not only did the party manage to stage a comeback, but overtook the BJP in both of these seats.

At the end of the counting, the BJP had secured 34 per cent votes in its esteemed Kharagpur seat while the TMC beat the saffron party by having a 47.7 per cent vote share.

“People did not like the BJP’s divisive agenda and drawing votes on lines of religion and NRC," the state’s parliamentary affairs and education minister, Partha Chatterjee said.

In Kaliaganj, known as a Congress stronghold, the TMC got 44.65 per cent of the total votes while the BJP closed in at 43.54 per cent. The Congress on the other hand, was left red-faced at only 8.6 per cent vote share.

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