Bengal assembly elections: BJP heavyweights, TMC turncoats fail to make a dent
All eyes are now set on the battleground constituency of Nandigram where incumbent West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was trailing by a narrow margin to her ex-aide, BJP's Suvendhu Adhikari.
The incumbent Trinamool Congress is heading for a victory in West Bengal for the third consecutive time with a clear majority. Trends on the Election Commission of India’s website at 2pm showed TMC leading in 210 seats while BJP was managing to secure only 78 of the 294 assembly seats.
The latest trends suggest that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to make a dent into the Trinamool bastions in Bengal despite putting up several heavyweight candidates and after giving tickets to a number of Trinamool turncoats, many of whom had joined the party in the presence of Union home minister Amit Shah in the run-up to the assembly elections.
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Here’s a look at how some of the TMC turncoats and BJP heavyweights performed.
Rajib Banerjee, the former forest minister in Mamata Banerjee cabinet, who joined the BJP in January this year, was trailing by 4,000 votes to TMC veteran Kalyan Ghosh. Banerjee was elected twice from Domjur assembly seat in 2011 and 2016. He was also in charge of the party’s affairs in the rural areas of the Howrah district.
Former Howrah mayor Rathin Chakraborti who joined BJP in the presence of home minister Amit Shah, trailed by over 6,000 votes to Trinamool’s Manoj Tiwary in Shibpur seat
Baishali Dalmiya, a former TMC MLA from the Bally assembly constituency and the daughter of late cricket administrator Jagmohan Dalmiya, was expelled from the Trinamool for alleged anti-party stance. She joined the BJP soon after and was given a ticket to fight from her home seat. At the end of the fifth round of counting, Dalmiya was trailing by over 7,000 votes in the third position against TMC’s Rana Chatterjee.
Another former TMC MLA, Prabir Kumar Ghosal from Uttarpara, who joined BJP was trailing by a thin margin against Trinamool’s Kanchan Mullick.
Actor-turned-politician Rudranil Ghosh, another Trinamool deserter, was also trailing by over 10,000 votes to Trinamool veteran Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay in the Bhawanipore seat.
Not just the turncoats, but BJP heavyweights and celebrity contenders have also failed to make a dent into TMC bastions.
Singer-turned-BJP MP Babool Supriyo, who contested against TMC heavyweight and PWD minister Aroop Biswas, from Tollygunje constituency was trailing by over 4,000 votes till 2pm.
A former journalist and BJP’s former Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta who contested from the Tarakeswar constituency, a TMC stronghold, was trailing by 1,900 votes to Trinamool’s Ramendu Sinharay. Known as a quintessential ‘bhadralok’, Dasgupta had resigned from his Rajya Sabha post to fight the elections in 2021.
Television actor Locket Chatterjee trailed by nearly 1,500 votes to Trinamool’s Asit Mazumdar in Chunchura seat.
Bengali actor Srabanti Chatterjee, who BJP fielded from Behala West seat against TMC top gun and state education minister Partha Chatterjee, was also trailing by 2,000 votes.
All eyes are now set on the battleground constituency of Nandigram where incumbent chief minister Mamata Banerjee was trailing by close to 4,000 votes to her ex-aide, BJP's Suvendhu Adhikari.
The battle for Nandigram is important as it was vital for the rise of the Trinamool Congress a decade earlier, when Suvendu, his brother Soumendu, and their father Sisir, as part of the powerful Adhikari family in the region, played a significant role in the anti-land acquisition movement in Nandigram. It was on the back of this struggle that Mamata Banerjee was ultimately able to dislodge in 2011 the 34-year Left Front rule in West Bengal.
The BJP had set itself a target of winning 200-plus seats in the state, where it won just three seats in the 2016 elections. The party fought a hard battle in the state, with senior party leaders camping in West Bengal for months. Union home minister Amit Shah was the chief strategist for the election, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed over a dozen rallies.