West Bengal Election Result 2021: Counting day turned out to be a perfect culmination of the high-voltage electoral battle fought by the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the ruling party registered a comfortable win in the politically crucial state.
The counting of votes began at 8 am, and after initial leads indicating a neck-and-neck fight, the TMC raced ahead and pushed past the halfway mark by evening, leaving its challenger far behind.
At the end of the day, the TMC had 197 wins in the 294-seat assembly and was ahead in 17 seats, and the BJP had won 67 seats and was ahead in 9. In the keenly-watched Nandigram seat, aide-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari defeated Mamata by 1,956 votes following several flip-flops over the results.
The TMC has demanded recounting in the Nandigram constituency from which Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had stood, alleging a number of illegalities in the vote-counting process. According to unofficial sources, Banerjee lost the Nandigram assembly elections to BJP candidate and her former lieutenant Suvendu Adhikari by around 1,700 votes. The TMC has written to the CEO requesting an immediate recounting of votes, party sources said, alleging “tampering and mismanagement of numbers from the EVM and said that the counting process was stalled from time to time and was not reported by the poll panel. The party in its letter to the CEO also alleged that valid votes in favour of Banerjee were rejected while invalid votes for the BJP were counted.
BJP's Vote Share Dips by 2% | The BJP's vote share in West Bengal assembly polls dipped by less than two percent compared to the 2019 general elections while that of TMC jumped by nearly five percent, according to the data provided by the Election Commission. The BJP had bagged 40.7 percent votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and won 18 out of the total 42 in the state, emerging as a main challenger to the ruling TMC which had got 43.3 percent votes.
The CPI(M)-led Left Front and the Congress party, which ruled the state for nearly six decades between them, face an unprecedented rout in West Bengal assembly elections trailing in all 292 seats which went to polls. An alliance with the newly-formed ISF does not seem to have helped the CPI(M)-led Left Front and the Congress combine. The Congress, which was the main opposition party in the outgoing assembly with 44 seats, had entered into an alliance with the Left Front in the 2016 assembly elections also.
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TMC Seeks Nandigram Recount | A delegation of three Trinamool Congress members is meeting the Chief Electoral Officer at Election Commissio office in Kolkata asking for recount in Nandigram where TMC chief Mamata Banerjee was locked in an intense battle with BJP's Suvendu Adhikari. High drama surrounded the final results from the constituency as the vote margin between the two remained slim.
Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to call on Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankar tomorrow at 7pm and stake claim after the TMC made a resounding victory in the elections.
Congratulated @MamataOfficial party win in West Bengal assembly elections.— Governor West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar (@jdhankhar1) May 2, 2021
Tomorrow at 7 PM Hon’ble CM will be calling on me at Raj Bhawan.
Thanking the people as the TMC headed for a landslide victory in the assembly elections, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that West Bengal has "saved" India with its mandate. "It is the victory of the people of Bengal, the victory of democracy. Bengal has saved India today. This landslide victory came after fighting against several odds -- the Centre, its machinery, its agencies. This victory has saved the humanity," Banerjee said, addressing the press as she stood on her feet for the first time in nearly two months.
West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar appreciated Trinamool Congress supremo's "stance" to observe COVID-19 guidelines and peace and called
upon the state apparatus to take all steps to ensure peace and order. In a tweet message, Dhankhar said democracy is all about respecting the mandate of the people. "Violence has no place in democracy. Appreciate stance @MamataOfficial to observe Covid guidelines and peace," he said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi congratulated Mamata-led TMC for its resounding victory in the Bengal polls.
I’m happy to congratulate Mamata ji and the people of West Bengal for soundly defeating the BJP.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 2, 2021
Thanking the people of Bengal for helping the BJP to increase its presence in the state, PM Modi appreciated the efforts of the party workers. "I would like to thank my sisters and brothers of West Bengal who have blessed our party. From a negligible presence earlier, BJP’s presence has significantly increased. BJP will keep serving the people. I applaud each and every Karyakarta for their spirited effort in the polls," he wrote on Twitter.
I would like to thank my sisters and brothers of West Bengal who have blessed our party. From a negligible presence earlier, BJP’s presence has significantly increased. BJP will keep serving the people. I applaud each and every Karyakarta for their spirited effort in the polls.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 2, 2021
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The BJP will now be compelled into a closer coordination with the mother-ship and its cadres, who have suffered through the pandemic as much as anyone.
While Mamata Banerjee has conceded defeat from Nandigram seat, the TMC has said the counting is still on and no results have been finalised yet.
The counting process for Nandigram has not been completed. Please do not speculate.— All India Trinamool Congress (@AITCofficial) May 2, 2021
Conceding her defeat from Nandigram seat, Mamata said she has accepted the verdict of people. However, implying that she will take oath as the chief minister, Mamata said a decision on lockdown in the state will be taken after she and her cabinet take the oath. The oath ceremony will be low-key event owing to covid situation in the state.
"We are grateful to the people for this landslide victory. I have to start working for COVID-19 immediately. The swearing-in will be a low-key event because of the prevailing COVID-19 situation," says Mamata Banerjee as her party makes stellar victory in the elections. However, suspense continues to loom over Nandigram results where she is locked in an intense battle with BJP's Suvendu Adhikari.
Mamata Wins Nandigram, Reports ANI | While the Election Commission is yet to confirm Mamata's win against Suvendu Adhikari, news agency ANI has reported that TMC supremo has won the prestige battle by a margin of 1200 votes.
"It is very difficult to say why we have won so big, but people wanted to get Mamata one more term," poll strategist Prashant Kishor said while speaking to CNN News18. "Just because central ministers come an campaign does not guarantee a win. They had huge resources, but that is not enough to win elections," Kishor said about the BJP's loss in the high-octane elections in Bengal. "The insider outsider debate is not a factor. You need to have many things to go right for you to win a state as big as Bengal," he said.
Physical distancing went for a toss as TMC supporters, thumbing their noses at the raging COVID-19 pandemic, hit the streets, beating drums, bursting firecrackers and smearing 'gulal' on one another, prompting the Election Commission to call for action. The poll panel, which barred celebratory processions and congregations on after counting of votes, asked the state administration to take action against all police stations that failed to stop enthusiasts from taking out rallies.
Defence minister and senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh congratulated Mamata as her party TMC braces for a comfortable win in West Bengal. "Congratulations to the Chief Minister of West Bengal, @MamataOfficial Didi on her party’s victory in West Bengal assembly elections. My best wishes to her for her next tenure," he wrote. While the party is set to form government in Bengal, Mamata is locked in a tough battle with BJP's Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram.
The tantalising has-she-won-has-she-not game played out for much of the day as votes were counted under strict Covid protocols. While some TV channels declared her victory, the Election Commission website at 8 pm showed she was trailing behind her one-time loyalist and now BJP candidate Adhikari by more than 4,392 votes. Banerjee conceded defeat to Adhikari, who proved to be a tough competitor and could well emerge one of the party’s most powerful leaders.
“I respect the verdict of people of Nandigram, but have got landslide victory in Bengal,” Banerjee said, adding that she would move court against the ‘mischief’ in Nandigram. The BJP, which worked hard to build inroads in the state and gave it its all, was left reeling under the ‘Mamata’ impact. It was a long way from the three seats in the last elections for the party, which fielded its top leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, but power in the state proved to be elusive.
The Left parties, which once called the state their bastion, and the Congress were demolished and not even a factor in the eight-phase election. The campaigning was marked by images of Banerjee in a wheelchair with a thick cast on her leg after she was injured during campaigning. In a brief address to party workers, Banerjee was business-like and sombre as she left the wheelchair behind and rose to address jubilant party workers. Tackling Covid-19 is a priority, she said, asking that no grand oath-taking ceremony would be organised and there would be a victory rally in Kolkata only after the pandemic was over.
It’s the victory of Bengal and democracy, she said. In terms of vote share, the TMC had 48.1 per cent of the votes against the BJP’s 37.8.
The state has a 294-member assembly but the election was countermanded in Shamsherganj and Jangipur constituencies due to the death of candidates. A party needed 147 seats for a simple majority in the House with an effective strength of 292.
In 2016, the TMC won 211 of the 293 seats it contested. The BJP could manage just three (it contested 291 seats). The alliance of Left parties and the Congress won 76 seats. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha won three, while one seat was won by an independent candidate.
The run-up to the eight-phase polls and the month-long voting exercise in the state were packed with thundering rallies, a high-pitched war of words and a series of controversies that catapulted Bengal to the centre stage of national politics.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah led the BJP’s charge, Banerjee tried to put up a spirited defence in her bid for a third straight term. The BJP leadership had set a target of winning at least 200 of the state’s 294 seats. On the other hand, the TMC maintained its rival will not cross the three-figure mark.
Development, polarisation, caste politics, corruption, infiltration and a clash of cultures have dominated the political rhetoric. The BJP promised all-around development in the state, accused the TMC of rampant corruption and appeasement politics, and promised to stop infiltration through the Bangladesh border. The TMC denied all charges and termed the BJP a party of “outsiders” that did not understand Bengal’s issues. According to analysts, the BJP focused on consolidating Hindu votes cutting across caste lines, while the TMC has tried to appeal to the larger idea of Bengaliness.
Both sides petitioned the Election Commission against the other on a number of occasions, with the TMC alleging the poll watchdog of working under the pressure of the Centre’s ruling BJP. A massive controversy erupted in the state after four people were killed in firing by central forces in Cooch Behar’s Sitalkuchi during the fourth phase of polling.
Bengal has traditionally voted overwhelmingly in favour of the party that comes to power. Will it be the same this time? Seems so. If the trends translate to results.