Khela Holo: Bhabanipur votes Didi back to power, helps her retain Bengal CM's post

By | Written by Avik Roy, New Delhi
Oct 03, 2021 05:01 PM IST

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee smashes her previous records to win the assembly bypolls in Bhabanipur by more than 58,000 votes.

Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee will remain the chief minister of West Bengal, for the third consecutive time, and the voters of the Bhabanipur assembly constituency ensured that.

A Trinamool Congress supporter flashes victory sign wearing a face shield with a photo of party supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee outside her residence in Kolkata's Kalighat, on Sunday. (PTI)
A Trinamool Congress supporter flashes victory sign wearing a face shield with a photo of party supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee outside her residence in Kolkata's Kalighat, on Sunday. (PTI)

On Sunday, Mamata Banerjee won the bypolls to Bhabanipur assembly constituency by a massive margin of 58,835 votes against her closest contender, Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Priyanka Tibrewal.

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Bypolls to three assembly constituencies in West Bengal, including Bhabanipur, were held on September 30. The south Kolkata constituency with 2,06,389 voters, however, saw a low voter turnout of 53.32% during the bypolls.

At the end of the 21st round of counting of votes polled for the Bhabanipur byelection, Mamata Banerjee secured 85,263 votes while Priyanka Tibrewal clinched 26,428 votes, including the postal ballots. CPM's Shrijeeb Biswas managed to bag only 4,226 votes to come a distant third.

According to the Election Commission, Mamata has secured 71.9% of the votes polled in the Bhabanipur assembly constituency while Priyanka Tibrewal managed only 22.29%.

Supporters of Trinamool Congress broke into celebrations outside the residence of Mamata Banerjee as early trends showed their leader inching towards a clear victory.

Expressing her gratitude towards the people of her constituency, Mamata Banerjee asked her party workers to help the flood-affected people in districts in the form of celebration.

"I thank the people of Bhawanipore and people of this state and the country who had been waiting for this election result. Our victory inspires me to work more for people. If our workers want to celebrate, they should do so by helping the flood-affected people in the districts. That will be the real celebration," Mamata Banerjee said during an impromptu meeting with the supporters and the media outside her house.

Early trends throughout the day as well as roundwise data by the Election Commission showed Mamata Banerjee leading with a comfortable margin from the beginning.

As many as 1,453 — or 1.23 % of the total votes polled — went to NOTA which was more than the votes secured by the nine other candidates in the fray. While six of them are independent candidates, three represent the Bahujan Maha Party, Bharatiya Nyay Adhikar Raksha Party and the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular).

Mamata Banerjee said the electorate of Bhowanipore has voted for her despite 46% of the people of the constituency being non-Bengalis.

“The people of Bhabanipur gave a befitting reply to the conspiracy that was hatched in Nandigram," the Trinamool Congress chief said.

Mamata Banerjee also broke her previous records of winning margin. The Trinamool Congress leader had won the Bhabanipur assembly bypoll in 2011 by 52,213 votes and by 25,301 votes in the 2016 elections.

BJP's Priyanka Tibrewal conceded defeat and said she has congratulated the chief minister.

"I gracefully accept the defeat. I congratulate Didi. I have sent my message to her," the youth leader of the party said.

She, however, called herself the “man of the match” for contesting the election in Mamata Banerjee's stronghold and securing more than 25,000 votes.

"If people were allowed to vote then the result would have been different. Even I got hold of fake voters on the polling day. In several booths, polls were rigged. But I will admit that our organisation was weak in Bhabanipur. We have to improve this," Priyanka Tibrewal told the media after her defeat.

ALSO READ | Bhabanipur bypoll: EC rejects BJP claim of booth rigging, cites mock poll delay

Bhabanipur assembly constituency has always been a strong fort for the Trinamool Congress, and the party has been winning it consecutively since the 2011 assembly elections.

Trinamool's Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay won the assembly polls from the Bhabanipur constituency by 28,719 votes earlier this year. But, Mamata Banerjee has crossed that margin as she was leading by 45,738 votes in the 17th round of counting.

The bypoll to Bhabanipur assembly constituency was necessitated after Trinamool Congress MLA Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay vacated the seat after the assembly elections earlier this year, to pave the way for party supremo Mamata Banerjee to contest the bypoll to retain her chief ministerial post.

Even though Trinamool Congress came back to power in West Bengal for the third consecutive time following a landslide victory in the assembly elections, Mamata Banerjee faced defeat in the Nandigram assembly constituency against her former protégé Suvendu Adhikari by a thin margin of 1,956 votes. A former state minister and a close aide of Mamata Banerjee, Adhikari switched to BJP ahead of the West Bengal assembly elections.

Mamata Banerjee was required to win on any seat in the state to have the chance of becoming a member of the state assembly, and retain the chief minister's post, before November 5.

Along with Bhabanipur, bypolls were also held in two other assembly constituencies in West Bengal, including Jangipur and Samserganj assembly constituencies on September 30. The Trinamool Congress was leading in all three seats, the latest data from the Election Commission show.

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