TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at an election rally y in South 24 Parganas district.(ANI)
TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at an election rally y in South 24 Parganas district.(ANI)

Bengal Lok Sabha results show Mamata, 17 ministers trail BJP on home turfs

The Trinamool Congress is facing a serious challenge from the BJP in Bengal after the saffron party’s stunning performance in the general elections,
By Snigdhendu Bhattacharya | hindustan Times, Kolkata
UPDATED ON MAY 26, 2019 03:51 PM IST

The phenomenal performance of the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections and bypolls for four Assembly seats is not the only headache for Bengal’s ruling party, Trinamool Congress or TMC.

An analysis of the voting pattern shows that the TMC fell behind BJP in the assembly and municipal turfs where many bigwigs, including chief minister Mamata Banerjee and several ministers, either live or contest.

Among all the embarrassing results for TMC, the biggest is the BJP’s lead in Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC)’s ward no 73, where chief minister Mamata Banerjee lives. BJP was ahead of TMC by 496 votes. However, the TMC was ahead in the assembly seat of Bhawanipur, which is represented by the CM in the assembly, by a slender margin of 3,168 votes.

“We have to introspect and find out what went wrong,” said TMC councillor Ratan Malakar who won from this ward three times in a row. Ward 73, a part of the Bhawanipur assembly segment, comes within the Kolkata South Lok Sabha constituency.

Interestingly, in 2014, BJP caused a major embarrassment for Banerjee by leading in the Bhawanipur assembly segment by 176 votes even though it lost in the Kolkata South seat.

In 2016, Banerjee was re-elected from Bhawanipur but her winning margin was less than half of what she achieved in 2011. “She will surely not get elected from Bhawanipur next time,” said BJP’s south Kolkata district unit chief Mohan Rao.

BJP has also taken lead over TMC in the Assembly segments held by as many as 17 ministers in Banerjee’s 40-member cabinet. “The trend sends the loud and clear message that people of Bengal want relief from the Mamata Banerjee regime. The fall of this government is only a matter of time,” said BJP state president Dilip Ghosh who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Midnapore.

Ministers whose Assembly constituencies voted for BJP include power minister Sovandeb Chatterjee (Rashbehari), fire services minister Sujit Bose (Bidhan Nagar), deputy minister for women and child welfare Shashi Panja (Shyampukur) and technical education minister Purnendu Basu (Rajarhat-Gopalpur). All these seats are in Kolkata.

Other TMC heavyweights facing the BJP onslaught are district-based leaders such as food minister Jyoti Priya Mullick (Habra), agriculture minister Ashis Banerjee (Rampurhat), tourism minister Goutam Deb (Dabgram-Phulbari), north Bengal development minister Rabindranath Ghosh (Natabari), labour minister Moloy Ghatak (Asansol North) and western region development minister Shantiram Mahato (Balarampur).

TMC has also fallen behind BJP in the constituencies of agriculture marketing minister Tapan Dasgupta (Saptagram), deputy minister for north Bengal development Bacchu Hansda (Tapan), correctional services minister Ujjwal Biswas (Krishnagar South), sports minister Laxmi Ratan Shukla (Howrah North), small and medium scale industries minister Ratna Kar Ghosh (Chakdah), forest minister Binay Krishna Barman (Mathabhanga) and deputy minister for panchayat and rural development Shyamal Santra.

Minister Chandranath Sinha’s neighborhood, ward no 16 of Bolpur municipality, also voted for BJP. Sinha expressed shock at the results and blamed “BJP-engineered communal polarization.”

Bengal’s ruling party also trailed in the assembly constituencies of the party’s Nadia district unit chief Gouri Shankar Dutta (Tehatta) and Asansol mayor and Pandaveswar MLA Jitendra Tewari.

“Religious polarisation cost us dear in some areas. People may also have grievances against us. Possibly, they didn’t take some of our moves in the right spirit,” said TMC’s Birbhum district unit chief Anubrata Mandal, whose own neighbourhood, ward no 15 of Bolpur municipality, voted for BJP although TMC clinched both the Lok Sabha seats in the district.

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