Mamata’s march: On West Bengal CM's win

The victory of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the Bhabanipur by-poll in West Bengal has come as no surprise but the margin of the victory and the little resistance put up by the Opposition parties including the Bharatiya Janata Party have come as a shot in the arm for the ruling Trinamool Congress. Ms Banerjee’s record winning margin of 58,832 votes is more than twice the margin of victory secured by the TMC candidate at the same constituency, located in the heart of Kolkata, five months ago in the State’s Assembly polls. The ruling party won all the three seats that went to the polls on September 30 in the State. In Jangipur, the margin of victory for the TMC candidate was over 92,000 votes and at Samserganj, the Trinamool Congress nominee won by over 26,000 votes. In two out of three seats, the BJP was the main opposition to the TMC but in Samserganj, the Congress nominee secured about 70,000 votes, pushing the BJP to the third position. Though Ms. Banerjee could not win the Nandigram seat in the Assembly election early this year, her decision to contest that seat considerably boosted her party. With her election as an MLA just in time to meet the six month deadline, Ms. Banerjee has capped her party’s impressive victory in May.

The outcomes also reinforce her positioning as a leader who has the gumption to confront the BJP that had left no stone unturned in its attempt to unseat her. The BJP stands further tamed after the by-poll outcomes. It put up a political greenhorn, Priyanka Tibrewal, to contest against the charismatic and popular Ms. Banerjee. The West Bengal BJP, which found it difficult to get the right candidates to contest against TMC nominees in the Assembly polls, continues to grapple with the same challenge five months later. The BJP central leadership stayed away from the campaign unlike earlier this year. The State leaders of the party were no match to the Trinamool Congress, in strategy or popularity. The State unit of the BJP was hoping that the Election Commission of India (ECI) may not announce the polls within the six-month deadline that the Chief Minister had to meet. Apparently taken by surprise, they spent time challenging the ECI decision in the courts rather than campaigning on the ground. The TMC government’s focus on cash transfer and other welfare schemes continues to draw the support of the electorate, while the issues of violence and corruption raised by the BJP did not strike a chord with them. The results also point to the continuing resistance to the BJP’s polarising tactics in West Bengal, and the party’s difficulty in tailoring a politics that is suitable for the region.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 1:37:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/mamatas-march-on-west-bengal-cms-win/article36830548.ece

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