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West Bengal bypoll: Trinamool wins comfortably; CPI(M) finishes second, BJP third

The BJP failed to make much impact despite expectation that Mukul Roy’s joining party will bolster its prospect

india Updated: Dec 24, 2017 20:56 IST
Koushik Dutta
Koushik Dutta
Hindustan Times, Midnapore/ Kolkata
Trinamool Congress,BJP,CPI(M)
Trinamool Congress on Sunday registered an emphatic victory in the Sabang assembly bypoll in West Bengal. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

The Trinamool Congress on Sunday wrested West Bengal’s Sabang assembly constituency from the Congress in a by-election, regarded crucial for the ruling party hit by recent desertion of its former general secretary Mukul Roy.

The TMC candidate Gita Rani Bhunia won by a margin of 64,192 votes over her nearest rival Rita Mondal of the Left Front backed Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) aspirant Antara Bhattacharyya finished third while Chiranjib Bhowmick of the Congress, which had won the seat in last year’s assembly polls, was in the fourth position.

The byelection was necessitated following the resignation of Congress legislator Manas Bhunia after he crossed over to the TMC.

TMC candidate Gita Rani is Bhunia’s wife.

Though victory of the ruling party was almost certain, the bypoll drew much attention as it was to be seen whether the BJP could make any significant gain after the former TMC number two joined the party, bolstering its hope of establishing itself as the credible challenger to the Mamata Banerjee’s TMC. Political observers were also keen to see whether Roy could make any dent in the TMC vote base.

Roy, who is now one of the prime faces of the state BJP, camped in the constituency with his team for several days in the run up to the elections, hoping to ensure that his party secures at least the second position.

The BJP also poached on the CPI (M) fielding the latter’s former Zila Parishad chairperson Bhattacharya as its nominee.

“The Sabang result will be encouraging for the Left and discouraging for the BJP ahead of the panchayat elections due next year,” said political analyst Amal Mukhopadhyay, former principal of the Presidency College.

“The state’s ruling party has many reasons to feel joyous. It has not only secured more than 50% of the polled votes, but also managed to see opposition votes are almost equally split between the Left and the BJP,” psephologist Biswanath Chakraborty said.

The BJP, however, put on a brave face after the results.

“The results are positive. Our vote share has increased significantly. However, we will definitely need to work harder,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said.

First Published: Dec 24, 2017 16:45 IST