Kolkata, February 16: An embattled Trimool Congress on Monday got a shot in the arm by emphatically retaining the Bongaon Lok Sabha and Krishganj assembly seats in West Bengal, where by-polls were held last week. Seemingly cornered over the Saradha scam in which several of its leaders have been either arrested or grilled, the state’s ruling Trimool called the victory a “miracle” while the opposition Left Front spearhead Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) claimed the polls did not reflect the people’s choice. The Bharatiya Jata Party (BJP), which has been gaining ground in the state, finished second at Krishganj, pushing the CPI-M to the third spot. In Bongaon, the CPI-M rrowly succeeded in retaining the second position after a close battle with the BJP. The Congress candidates lost their deposits and came fourth in both the seats.
In Bongaon, Trimool candidate Mamatabala trounced her nearest rival CPI-M nominee and former state minister Debesh Das by over 2.11 lakh votes. She led in all seven assembly segments of the primarily rural constituency, comprising parts of North 24 Pargas and dia districts. Das, who had finished runner up in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, was initially at the third position, but made up midway through the counting to climb up one rung.
The Bangaon by polls, necessitated by the death of Trimool MP Kapil Krish Thakur, assumed extra significance for the ruling party after state minister and Kapil Krish’s brother Manjul Krish quit his post and joined BJP in the lead-up to the election. While the Trimool fielded Kapil Krish’s widow Mamatabala, the BJP ticket went to Manjul Krish’s son Subrata. In dia district’s Krishganj, Trimool candidate Satyajit Biswas won by over 37,000 votes against his nearest rival Mabendra Roy of the BJP. The Trimool vote share dropped two percent compared to last year’s Lok Sabha polls, while the BJP’s vote almost doubled. CPI-M’s Apurba Biswas secured far less support this time as compared to last year. The seat fell vacant due to the death of Trimool lawmaker Sushil Biswas. Over 80 percent voters cast their votes Feb 13 in the two seats, reserved for scheduled caste candidates. The twin electoral success boosted the Trimool, which is also battling interl strife with one-time second-in-command and general secretary Mukul Roy distancing himself from the party. Describing the twin victories as a “miracle”, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the people have rejected the conspiracies and malicious campaign by the BJP and asserted her party was “intact” and “strong”.
“This is people’s magic. This is a miracle. We had not expected that we will win by such big margins. People have bowled out the opposition,” Banerjee told media persons. On media queries about turmoil within the Trimool, Banerjee said: “We are the number one strong party not only in India, but in the world. No one can divide Trimool. “If any individual gives his opinion, it is his prerogative. But the party remains strong and united and this is our collective family.” Amid speculation that he might quit the party after most of his organisatiol responsibilities were delegated to others by Banerjee during a reshuffle on February 14, Roy said the victories were “expected”.
Meanwhile, the BJP claimed that the by polls reflected Trimool’s decline and its continuous surge in the state. “In both the seats our graph had increased rapidly. If in Krishanganj we gained 26 percent in vote share since 2011, in Bongaon the margin of loss has been nearly halved from the 2014 polls where the victory margin was in excess of three lakh votes,” BJP tiol secretary Siddharth th Singh said. CPI-M politburo member Sitaram Yechury said the results do not reflect the peoples’ verdict. “The misfortune is that our parliamentary democracy system is getting thoroughly distorted either by money power or muscle power or both.”
The day brought another good news for the Trimool, as former IPS officer and party leader Rajat Majumdar was granted bail by the Calcutta High Court. Majumdar, a former director general of state armed police was arrested on September 9, 2014 by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for his alleged complicity in the Saradha scam. (IANS)