The Election Commission late on Sunday declared Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Suvendu Adhikari as the winner in West Bengal’s Nandigram constituency.
The poll panel’s website showed that Adhikari, a Trinamool Congress turncoat, had defeated Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee by a margin of 1,956 votes. The final results came after a day of political drama that saw conflicting claims, allegations of fraud in counting, a demand for recount and its rejection.
Earlier, the Election Commission had rejected the Trinamool Congress’ request to conduct a recount in the Nandigram constituency, NDTV reported.
This came after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had alleged “looting and cheating” in the counting process in the constituency, where she contested against Bharatiya Janata Party candidate and Trinamool Congress turncoat Suvendu Adhikari.
Soon after, a delegation of her party met poll body officials, seeking a recounting. In a letter to the Election Commission, the party made multiple allegations, including stalling of counting from time -to-time, tampering of the voting machines and inclusion of false and invalid votes in favour of the BJP.
Banerjee, in a press briefing, had accused the Election Commission of functioning like a spokesperson of the BJP and said that the Trinamool Congress will take legal recourse on the counting process in Nandigram.
“They [Election Commission] stopped surveillance...They announced the winning [candidate] and after that they are saying something,” Banerjee said, at a press briefing. “Some looting is going on, some cheating is going on. We will file a court case.”
The confusion about the Nandigram seat emerged after it was reported around 4.30 pm that Banerjee had won the seat by a margin of 1,200 votes.
The Trinamool Congress is set to come back for a third term with a clear majority with 214 seats, while the BJP was leading in 76.
To add to the confusion, BJP Information Technology Cell chief Amit Malviya tweeted around 6 pm, claiming that Adhikari had won by 1,622 votes.
Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress tweeted at 6.30 pm to point out that the counting process was still on.
In her briefing, Banerjee refused to read much into the matter.
“There is no confusion...There can be no confusion for those who have won on 221 seats,” she said. “It is in fact a blessing in disguise. Otherwise I would have to go there [Nandigram] again and again. Whatever mandate people have given, I accept that. But I have information that some manipulations were done after announcing the winner. I will find out what happened and approach the court.”
Nandigram was the most keenly-watched contest in the West Bengal elections as Adhikari, once a trusted lieutenant of Banerjee had joined the BJP months ahead of the polls. The counting process too emerged to be a cliffhanger as Adhikari was leading in the morning, before Banerjee started clawing back and eventually went ahead in the afternoon. However, the final result is yet to be clear.
The Trinamool Congress is set to come back for a third term with a clear majority with 213 seats, while the BJP was leading in 77.
Speaking on the overall results of the election, Banerjee said that the voters have “shooed away” the BJP and referred to her party’s performance as a victory for West Bengal. The chief minister said that she had a target of winning 221 seats as the elections were held in 2021. She also urged her supporters not to hold victory processions due to the coronavirus situation.
Banerjee refused to divulge details on her party’s decision to stake claim to power or whether she would file nomination from another constituency if she indeed loses in Nandigram. She, however, mocked the BJP’s “double-engine government” campaign, pointing out that it was her party which scored a double hundred of seats.