The Trinamool Congress-Congress electoral alliance continued its winning streak in West Bengal by bagging eight of the ten Assembly seats for which by-elections were held in the State on November 7. The results were announced on Tuesday.
The ruling Left Front could stem the tide against it in only one constituency while the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) made its presence felt for the first time in the electoral map of the plains of north Bengal, where an Independent candidate it backed came up trumps.
While the Trinamool Congress won in all the seven seats where it had put up its nominees, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) lost in all the five it contested, failing to retain two. The Congress could hold on to one of the two seats it had held with the All India Forward Bloc wresting the other from it.
Though the Trinamool Congress was able to reassert its dominance in the electoral alliance it shares with the Congress, what is perhaps most significant emerging from the poll outcome is the victory of the GJM-sponsored Independent candidate, in the Kalchini seat in Jalpaiguri district, previously held by the Revolutionary Socialist Party.
The Independent candidate’s win is expected to strengthen the GJM leadership’s demand for the inclusion of the Dooars region of Jalpaiguri district (where Kalchini is located) into its proposed Gorkhaland State comprising the Darjeeling hills and certain areas contiguous to it.
Dedicating the victory in the by-elections to “the peace-loving people” of the State, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee described the electoral outcome as a “vote against atrocities” and a “vote against State-sponsored terrorism.”
“If they [the Left Front] do not take a lesson after this also, I am sorry… It will only request the Centre to please take care and give protection to the people,” she told journalists in New Delhi.
Accepting the people’s verdict, Biman Bose, Secretary of the West Bengal State Committee of the CPI(M), admitted that except for the Goalpokhor seat “the people had given their mandate against the Left Front candidates.” The reasons would be analysed and looked into, he added.
While the mood in the Trinamool Congress camp was upbeat, its most notable success was in the city’s Belgachia East constituency that it wrested from the CPI(M) which has held on to it since 1977. The losing CPI(M) candidate was Ramola Chakraborty, widow of senior party leader and the former Transport Minister Subhas Chakraborty.
The Congress, however, did not fare well, winning in only one of the three seats it contested. A major reversal was its loss in Goalpokhor in the State’s Uttar Dinajpur district, previously held by party heavyweight Deepa Dasmunshi, who is now a MP. The AIFB nominee was the winner there.