TMC trounces BJP in all three seats: Takeaways from West Bengal bypoll results
Bagging all three bypolls, Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool seems to be on a path of resurgence. But how did it happen? Here are our top takeaways.
Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool won all three assembly bypolls in West Bengal, bagging Kaliaganj, Kharagpur-Sadar and Karimpur seats, with BJP at the second position in all the seats.
Tapan Deb Sinha of TMC won the Kaliaganj seat in a close contest, defeating his nearest BJP rival Kamal Chandra Sarkar by 2,418 votes. Which becomes interesting when we think that Kaliaganj is an assembly segment under Raiganj Lok Sabha constituency, which the BJP had won just a few months ago with a lead of over 56,000 votes.
Where as in Karimpur, TMC's Bimalendu Sinha Roy defeated BJP's Jaiprakash Majumdar by a margin of more than 230000 votes. Just a few days back, Jaiprakash Majumdar was heckled, slapped, pushed and kicked into bushes by the side of a road in Islampur by some assailants. In that paricular booth, he has recieved just 2 votes. TMC MP Mohua Mitra had bagged Karimpur in the last polls before she was elected to the Lok Sabha from Krishnanagar.
TMC's Pradip Sarkar wrested Kharagpur Sadar seat from BJP, which came as a shock for the saffron party as it was earlier held by the party's state president Dilip Ghosh before he was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Medinipur seat. Sarkar defeated Premchandra Jha of BJP by a comfortable margin of 20,788 votes. The saffron party had a lead of nearly 45,000 votes in this seat during the Lok Sabha polls.
Within just 6 months, Trinamool Congress looks to have shaken off the setback of general elections. It has won the assembly seats of Kaliagunj and Kharagpur-Sadar, which had eluded the party in its 21-year long history. On the other hand, it extended its lead in Karimpur from what it had garnered in the Lok Sabha polls.
The NRC anxiety
The political commentators are already attributing this resurgence of TMC or the setback for BJP to a few 'factors'. One of them is definitely the NRC anxiety, which has spread especially in border areas like North Dinajpur's Kaliaganj and Nadia's Karimpur. Both the places have a lot of residents who or whose parents migrated from east bengal (presently Bangladesh). So the fear of losing citizenship definitely affected those residents. Even the ones who are orginally from West Bengal are affected by it, since many don't have all the documents of their ancestors with them.
This anxiety was used well by Trinamool and Mamata Banerjee. TMC leaders even held local meetings where they'd talk about NRC and how it could make them state-less. What also aided Trinamool is the promise by Mamata Banerjee that she won't let NRC take place in Bengal.
BJP, on the other hand, could not counter this campaign effectively. Though Home Minister Amit Shah repeatedly assured that the Citizenship Amendment Bill will be passed before carrying out the NRC process, the results probve that it didn't quite reach the people it needed to.
This anxiety was also fuelled by a lot confusion. Despite Shah's assurance, the people of West Bengal are still not clear about the documents to produce or or what will happen if they fail to furnish the documents despite being a Hindu, or Budhhist, or Jain or Christian. Political analysts are of the opinion that even the local BJP leaders did not put the necessary legwork to clear these doubts.
The PK factor
Another major factor which has come up is the Prashant Kishore factor. The architect behind BJP's 2014 campaign and YSRCP's 2019 campaign was brought by Mamata Banerjee after the Lok Sabha election setback. The first thing Prashant Kishore did was to ensure that the party workers don't lose heart and confidence. By planning regular reachout programmes and 'Didi Ke Bolo' campaign he ensured that the party-workers don't stop being among the voters. This made sure that TMC's message reaches out to the voters. Analysts opine that by doing so, he eliminated the possibility of the post-Lok Sabha poll blues among the grassroot workers.
Did BJP miss the trick?
Some are saying that BJP's percieved overconfidence also was a factor behind these results; as after winning an unprecedented 18 seats in the general elections, BJP karyakartas did't put as much effort to reach out to people as the wounded Trinamool did. Even the trend of leaders defecting BJP after Lok Sabha results stopped, with some of the defecting leaders even coming back to the Trinamool fold.
One more factor was BJP's selcetion of candidates. Whispers of how BJP state president Dilip Ghosh made Premchand Jha the candidate from Kharagpur-Sadar despite reservations from other state BJP leaders are not unknown. This even led to sort of a rebellion within the party with senior BJP leader Pradip Pattanayak deciding to contest as an independent candidate. Even the candidature of Jaiprakash Majumdar was the decision of Dilip Ghosh alone, according to sources in BJP.
While agreeing that these results should be a reason for introspection, BJP working committee member Mukul Roy doesn't think these bypolls should be compared with the Lok Sabha polls. Roy says that it's only in Kharagpur where their vote-share has reduced, in the other two seats the vote-shares have increased.