Mamata wins by-poll, Trinamool snatches Basirhat-Uttar

September 28th, 2011 - 10:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, Sep 28 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday won her maiden election to the state assembly with a thumping 54,000-plus margin, while her party snatched the Basirhat (Uttar) seat in by-polls held Sunday.

Four-and-a-half months after her party was voted to power in the state, ending 34 years of Left Front rule, Banerjee triumphed from Bhowanipore in South Kolkata. She polled over 77 percent of the votes and registered a margin more massive than what her party’s winning candidate Subrata Bakshi got in the April-May assembly election.

“Mamata Banerjee has won from Bhowanipore. The victory margin is 54,213 votes,” an election official said.

Banerjee’s scale of victory over her nearest Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) candidate Nandini Mukhopadhyay was all the more creditable given that the poling percentage had dropped by a drastic 18 percent compared to the assembly election.

While over 63 percent of the voters exercised their franchise in the assembly election, only 44.89 percent polling was recorded in Sunday’s by-poll, held amid rains and hectic preparations for next week’s Durga Puja.

State Trinamool chief and Public Works Department Minister Subrata Bakshi, who quit his seat to make way for Banerjee to contest the by-poll, had won by 49,963 votes over CPI-M’s Narayan Jain in the assembly polls earlier this year.

Interestingly, Jain switched over to Trinamool recently and actively campaigned for Banerjee.

Though Mukhopadhyay, a computer science professor, is a political greenhorn and fought her first ever assembly election, all CPI-M leaders, including former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Left Front chairman Biman Bose and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Surya Kana Mishra campaigned for her.

Though there was little doubt about her victory, after the low turnout even Banerjee seemed unsure of her margin.

“Don’t expect too much from Bhowanipore. It was a by-poll. So people did not came out in large numbers. The rain also played spoilsport,” Banerjee said at a party function Tuesday.

But the huge margin cheered her up Wednesday.

Dedicating her victory to the people, Banerjee said: “It is the victory of the people. In spite of lack of canvassing and low turnout, the margin suggests the love people have for me and the party.”

But what could be termed more politically significant is the emphatic victory of Trinamool in Basrihat Uttar, which CPI-M had managed to win despite its debacle in the April-May assembly polls.

Though the CPI-M’s popular leader Mostafa Bin Quasem had then won by about 4,000 votes, this time Trinamool Congress nominee A.T.M. Abdullah got a sweeping 30,900-plus majority.

The constituency went to the by-poll after Quasem allegedly committed suicide by jumping from the balcony of his room in the legislators’ hostel. Quasem’s family, however, never accepted the suicide theory and claimed he had been murdered. The family did not vote in the by-polls.

Banerjee seemed to have gained from the absence of a candidate from the People’s Democratic Conference of India (PDCI), a party with considerable clout among the minorities in the constituency, which polled over 7,000 votes earlier this year.

Besides, the reduction in the BJP’s votes, and the pro-farmer steps like the passing of the Singur land act could also have contributed to the change in the mindset of the voters in the rural constituency.

After the by-polls, Trinamool’s strength in the 294-seat assembly has gone up to 185. With its partner Congress and Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) having 42 and one members respectively, the alliance now has 228 legislators.

On the other hand, the number of CPI-M legislators has gone down to 39, with the Left Front now commanding 61 members.

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