Will Mamata retain her CM chair? Counting of votes to Bhabanipur by-poll today
The counting of votes to the crucial by-poll to the Bhabanipur seat in south Kolkata where chief minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting to continue as the chief minister will take place on Sunday amid heavy security deployment. Votes will also be counted for the by-polls held in Jangipur and Samserganj assembly constituencies in the Murshidabad district of the state and one constituency in Odisha.
The West Bengal assembly by-polls to the three seats were held on Thursday without any untoward incident. Officials of the Election Commission of India will begin counting the votes at 8am and the results will likely come in by the afternoon. The counting will be held in 21 rounds for the Bhabanipur constituency, which witnessed only a 57.09 per cent turnout.
Twenty four companies of central forces have been deployed at the counting centres and the entire area will be put under CCTV surveillance. Officials will only be allowed pen and paper and only the returning officer and observer are allowed to use phones, officials have said.
Candidates against Mamata
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded 41-year-old Priyanka Tibrewal, a lawyer, against Mamata Banerjee from Bhabanipur. The CPI(M)’s Srijib Biswas, who is also a lawyer, is also in the fray. Congress did not contest the seat.
The voter turnout in Bhabanipur was 61.79 per cent in April when the elections were held and Chattopadhyay won the seat with 57.71 per cent votes and his BJP rival secured 35.16 per cent. The Trinamool Congress registered a landslide victory in the assembly polls winning 213 of 294 seats in the West Bengal assembly. The BJP won 77 seats.
Crucial for Mamata
Bhabanipur was Mamata Banerjee’s old seat and Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay vacated it when she lost in Nandigram to the BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari, who is now the leader of opposition in the West Bengal assembly, in the assembly elections held earlier this year. She lost to Adhikari—a former TMC leader—by a margin of 1,956 votes. Mamata Banerjee retained the Bhabanipur seat in the 2016 assembly polls.
Banerjee has to be elected to the West Bengal assembly by winning this bypoll before November 5 to retain the chair. She has to become a member of the state assembly within six months of her assuming office as chief minister, according to the rules of the Constitution.
The Bhabanipur constituency was formed in 2011 after delimitation and has been a bastion of the ruling Trinamool Congress since its inception. Mamata Banerjee’s home in Kalighat comes under this constituency and has been elected twice from the seat in 2011 and 2016.
The Election Commission’s data shows that the TMC won the 2011 West Bengal assembly elections on 184 seats and ended the 34-year-old Left Front rule. Banerjee did not contest the polls that year and TMC MLA and then minister Subrata Bakshi quit the seat to make way for Banerjee. She later won the bypolls.
There are 20,64,56 voters in Bhabanipur—111,243 are men and 95,209 are women. There were 287 booths in Bhabanipur, of which the number of main booths were be 269.
(With agency inputs)