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Trinamool wins Maheshtala assembly bypoll with big margin

The Trinamool candidate Dulal Das secured 104,818 votes against 41,993 by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) Sujit Ghosh and 30,316 by the Left’s Prabhat Chowdhury.

india Updated: May 31, 2018 21:22 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Assembly bypoll,Bengal bypoll,Mahestala bypoll
Voters queue up to cast their vote at a polling station during Maheshtala assembly bypoll in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal on May 28.(PTI file photo)

Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress continued its triumphant run in West Bengal as it secured a victory on Thursday in the Maheshtala assembly byelection capturing nearly 60% of the votes polled.

The ruling party’s candidate Dulal Das secured 104,818 votes against 41,993 by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) Sujit Ghosh and 30,316 by the Left’s Prabhat Chowdhury.

READ MORE: LIve updates on election bypoll results

Das’s winning margin of 62,825 was five times more than the 12,452 his wife and the earlier member of legislative assembly, Kasturi Das, registered from this seat in 2016. Her death necessitated the bypoll.

By-election results
Voting was held on May 28 for four Lok Sabha and 10 assembly constituencies
LOK SABHA
ConstituencyWinsHeld by
Kairana (Uttar Pradesh)RLDBJP
Palghar (Maharashtra)BJPBJP
Bhandara- Gondiya (Maharashtra)NCPBJP
NagalandNDPPNPF
ASSEMBLY
ConstituencyWinsHeld by
Noorpur (Uttar Pradesh)SPBJP
Shahkot (Punjab)CongressSAD
Jokihat (Bihar)RJDJD(U)
Gomia (Jharkhand)JMMJMM
Silli (Jharkhand)JMMJMM
Chengannur (Kerala)CPI(M)CPI(M)
Palus Kadegaon (Maharashtra)CongressCongress
Ampati (Meghalaya)CongressCongress
Tharali (Uttarakhand)BJPBJP
Maheshtala (West Bengal)TMCTMC

The BJP came in a distant second even though it recorded a quantum jump in vote share. While the saffron camp won 7.7% of the votes in the 2016 assembly elections, it secured 23.7% this year.

The Left candidate, who was supported by the Congress, emerged as a prominent loser. In 2016, its candidate Samik Lahiri won 42.2% votes that came down to 17.11% this time.

“We knew our margin will rise. It is an expression of the people’s support to the chief minister’s programmes. Even if you add the votes secured by the BJP and the Left candidate, the sum will be less than our tally,” said ruling party candidate Dulal Das.

The Left candidate said he would not like to comment on the results without having a look at the results of the 283 booths.

This was the fourth bypoll since November 2017 in each of which Trinamool Congress steamrolled the opposition securing more than 50% of the votes polled.

The earlier ones were held in the Lok Sabha seat of Uluberia in February this year and Noapara and Sabang - both assembly seats - in February and December 2017.

“Our winning margin of 12,000 just two years ago has multiplied to something close to 65,000. It will reach about a lakh in 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” said Trinamool Lok Sabha member and the chief minister’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee.

He connected the bypoll results with the larger picture of the Lok Sabha polls scheduled to be held next year.

“The Maheshtala victory has ushered in Mahalaya (a ritual marking the beginning of Durga Puja). Vijaya Dasami will arrive in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” Banerjee remarked even before the final result was declared.

Each election result in the state holds a special interest for chief minister Banerjee, who wants to ensure the biggest possible winning margin to lift the morale of her party workers before the Lok Sabha polls and dampen that of the BJP supporters.

BJP president Amit Shah has chosen West Bengal as a focus state from which he wants to secure at least 22 of the 44 Lok Sabha seats it has. Trinamool leaders say big victories will also imply that her home turf is intact and the chief minister can pursue her goal of catalysing an anti-BJP front of regional parties for the general elections.

The BJP’s national secretary Rahul Sinha, however, saw a silver lining in the results.

“It is clear that the combined existence of the Left and Congress has become irrelevant. In future, Bengal elections will be bipolar,” said Sinha.

Trinamool won almost 67% of the gram panchayat seats, more than 82% of the panchayat samiti seats and almost 95% of the zilla parishad seats in the recently-concluded panchayat elections in the state.

Unlike the panchayat elections, the Maheshtala byelection was completely free from incidents of violence and complaints from the opposition camp. Central forces provided security cover.

Maheshtala, located in the southern fringes of Kolkata, is semi-urban, where about 40% of the residents are Muslims.

First Published: May 31, 2018 15:00 IST