Abhijit Mukherjee of the Congress won the Lok Sabha by-election from Jangipur in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district by a thin margin of 2,536 votes on Saturday. The ruling party in the State, the Trinamool Congress, did not contest the October 10 poll for the seat, vacated by Abhibjit’s father, President Pranab Mukherjee.

The Congress nominee got 3,32,919 votes, about 39.01 per cent of the total 8,53, 413 votes polled. His nearest rival, Muzaffar Hussain of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) secured 3, 30, 383 votes (38.71 per cent). The BJP’s Sudhanshu Biswas got about 10 per cent (85,867 votes), a significant rise in the vote share of the party, which got only 2.33 per cent in the 2009 Lok Sabha election in the constituency. Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, who had held the seat since 2004, won the 2009 election with a margin of 1.28-lakh votes, the Congress’ share being 54 per cent then.

“The thin margin [of victory] now is because the elections were held in a difficult political situation. Issues like foreign direct investment as well as rise in essential prices are there,” Abhijit told journalists. He claimed that the low voter turnout (about 60 per cent) also contributed to the dip in the Congress margin. The result assumes significance as the by-election was held after the Trinamool withdrew support to the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre and severed ties with the Congress in the State.

Congress MP and Murshidabad district president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the victory was significant amid the “anti Congress wave” in the country. Mr. Chowdhury said the Trinamool not putting put up any candidate was not aimed at helping the Congress as such, but was a political decision to avert a certain defeat.

CPI(M) buoyant

CPI(M) leaders claimed that the result was a reflection of the growing anti-Congress sentiment sweeping the country. Senior leader and former minister Anisur Rehman said: “Our vote share has increased compared to the previous Assembly election. Moreover, the lead established by our candidate in four Assembly segments [out of the seven in the Lok Sabha constituency] indicates the growing support of the Left Front ahead of the panchayat elections.”

“Since the 2011 Assembly elections, there has been a steady increase in the vote share of the BJP and the result of the Jangipur by-election proves that,” said State president Rahul Sinha. Despite the constituency having an overwhelming minority population (about 72 per cent), the BJP received support from all sections in the by-election, he claimed