The Trinamool Congress won the bye-elections to all three Assembly seats in West Bengal that voted on Monday – Kaliaganj, Kharagpur Sadar and Karimpur. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed the Bharatiya Janata Party was getting paid back for its “arrogance” and for “insulting” the people of the state, PTI reported.
In the fourth bye-poll held on Monday, the BJP retained the Pithoragarh seat of Uttarakhand, with Chandra Pant winning by a margin of 3,267 votes against Congress candidate Anju Lunthi. The seat had been vacant since the death of Pant’s husband and Cabinet minister Prakash Pant in June.
The counting of votes in all four constituencies began at 8 am amid tight security.
In Kaliaganj, the ruling Trinamool Congress’ candidate Tapan Deb Singha defeated the BJP’s Kamal Chandra Sarkar by 2,414 votes in Kaliaganj. In Kharagpur Sadar, Trinamool candidate Pradip Sarkar defeated the BJP’s Prem Chandra Jha by 20,853 votes. In Karimpur, Bimalendu Sinha Roy defeated the BJP’s Jay Prakash Majumdar by 23,910 votes.
Banerjee called it a “victory of development” and voters’ rejection of the BJP. She claimed the Trinamool’s victory was in favour of secularism and unity, and a “mandate against NRC [National Register of Citizens]”.
The polls at Kharagpur Sadar and Karimganj were necessitated after the MLAs from the respective seats won the Lok Sabha elections in May. Dilip Ghosh, BJP MLA from Kharagpur Sadar, was elected from the Medinipur Lok Sabha seat and Mahua Moitra, MLA from Karimpur, won the Krishnanagar Lok Sabha seat in Nadia district. The Kaliaganj seat in Uttar Dinajpur district had been vacant after the death of Congress MLA Pramath Nath Roy in May.
During voting on Monday, senior BJP leader and party’s candidate in Karimpur, Jay Prakash Majumdar, was allegedly beaten and kicked into bushes by Trinamool Congress activists. He had alleged that TMC was trying to “murder democracy”. The Trinamool leadership, however, denied the allegations and had said the BJP leader was trying to garner sympathy.
The voter turnout in the three seats in West Bengal was 75.58%, while it was 47.48% in the single Assembly seat of Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand, according to the Election Commission.
These bye-polls were not held along with the bye-elections to 51 Assembly and two Lok Sabha seats on October 21 because of requests from the two state governments. Uttarakhand had cited local body elections and West Bengal had cited Durga Puja festivities.
The bye-election results are a test for the ruling Trinamool Congress’ strength in West Bengal, and also for the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has emerged as the main Opposition in the state ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections. The results will also indicate an early trend ahead of the Assembly elections in the state.