Kolkata: Six months after being jolted by the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) made a stunning comeback on Thursday, sweeping the Kaliaganj, Kharagpur-Sadar and Karimpur assembly bypolls.
The wins, especially in BJP strongholds Kaliaganj and Kharagpur-Sadar, pose a strong challenge to the saffron party in the run-up to the 2021 assembly polls since it had won the corresponding Lok Sabha segments, Raiganj and Medinipur, in the May general elections. This is also TMC’s first ever win in Kaliaganj.
Dedicating the party's victory to the people of West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said voters had "paid back" the BJP for its "arrogance of power". "We dedicate this victory to the people of Bengal. The BJP is getting paid back for its arrogance of power and for insulting the people of Bengal," she told a TV news channel.
The CPI(M) and the Congress, instead of trying to strengthen themselves, are "helping" the BJP in West Bengal, Banerjee said.
In Kaliaganj, TMC’s Tapan Deb Sinha defeated his nearest rival and BJP candidate Kamal Chandra Sarkar by 2,304 votes. Congress's Paramathanath Roy had won the seat in the last assembly election. The party had fielded his daughter Dhritashree, who finished third.
Conceding defeat to Singha, Sarkar blamed his loss on the “fear” over the NRC exercise.
“I don’t want to comment on who the Rajbonshi community voted for. But one thing is clear, the minorities voted for the TMC. I admit that that National Register of Citizens (NRC) is the reason behind my defeat. There was fear among the people regarding NRC,” he said.
He added, “We failed to make people understand that NRC in Assam was different. NRC is implemented by the Centre and not the BJP as a party. People thought BJP was implementing NRC and this went against us.”
In Kharagpur-Sadar, TMC's Pradip Sarkar wrested the seat from the BJP, defeating Prem Chandra Jha by a comfortable margin of 20,788 votes. The loss in Kharagpur-Sadar came as a shock for the BJP whose state president Dilip Ghosh was the MLA from there before he got elected to the Lok Sabha from Medinipur.
In Karimpur, TMC nominee Bimalendu Sinha Roy won against BJP’s Jaiprakash Majumdar, retaining the seat for his party. TMC's Mohua Mitra had bagged Karimpur in the last polls before she was elected to the Lok Sabha from Krishnanagar.
“Karimpur was a not a challenge for us, but the current trend shows that people rejected the divisive politics of BJP in Kharagpur-Sadar and in Kaliaganj. It is a big slap on the BJP’s face. The most significant is Kaliaganj. We never won this seat,” a senior TMC leader said.