Trinamool snatches Asansol LS seat from BJP retains Ballygunge

Kolkata, April 16 : Giving a jolt to the BJP, West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress snatched the Asansol Lok Sabha seat with a huge margin in the vote count on Saturday for the by-poll held earlier this week. The Trinamool also retained the Ballygunge Assembly constituency, albeit with a lesser margin and smaller vote share in the recent by-polls compared to the general Assembly election last year. In Asansol, yesteryear’s noted Bollywood actor Shatrughan Sinha, contesting on the Trinamool Congress’s twin-flower symbol, trounced his nearest rival, Agnimitra Paul of BJP, by 303 209 votes. Sinha got 656358 votes, and Paul 353149 This is the first time that the Trinamool has won the seat that runs through the industrial belt in Paschim Bardhaman district, Comm st Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) aspirant Partha Mukherjee squandered his deposit while taking the third spot. In Ballygunge, singer-turned-politician Babul Supriyo emerged the winner by 20,228 votes over CPI-M nominee Saira Shah Halim, with BJP’s Keya Ghosh finishing third and forfeiting her deposit. Supriyo got 51199 votes, while Saira polled 30971. The Congress put up a pathetic show, losing their deposits while finishing way behind in the fourth slots in both the seats. In the Lok Sabha polls around three years back, then BJP contestant Babul Supriyo held on to the Asansol seat by an emphatic 1,97,637 margin over Trinamool nominee actress Moon Moon Sen. Supriyo had created a sensation by winning the seat in 2014, marking his big bang entry into the political arena. The by-poll this time was necessitated as Supriyo resigned from the seat last October after switching allegiance to the Trinamool Supriyo had earlier quit the BJP and announced his decision to retire from politics when he was dropped from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ministry last July. The Ballygunge constituency fell vacant after Trinamool Congress MLA and veteran state minister Subrata Mukherjee passed away last November. Mukherjee had steamrolled all opposition to triumph with a 75,000 plus margin, garnering 70 percent plus valid votes in the Assembly election. Compared to Mukherjee, Supriyo’s share of votes dropped to less than 50 percent, and the winning margin fell by around 74 percent in the constituency which has a sizeable chunk of Muslim votes, However, It may be mentioned that the overall polling percentage had also sharply declined in the recent by-poll as against last year’s assembly election. Though it lost, the CPI-M took heart from its candidate Saira Shah Halim getting the second position, unseating the BJP. The saffron party had obtained 20.68 percent votes in 2021, but its vote share came down to around 13 percent this time. On the other hand, Fuad Halim, the CPI-M’s candidate in 2021, had received less than six percent of the valid votes. But in the latest election, his wife Saira’s vote share went up five times to over 30 percent. Elated over the double triumph, State Chief Minister and Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee saluted the voters for reposing faith in her party and described the verdict as a Bengali New Year gift. ‘We consider this to be our people’s warm Shubho Nababarsho gift to our Ma- Mati- Manush (Mother, Land and People) organisation. Salute to the voters for reposing faith in us, yet again,’ she said. State BJP President Sukanta Majumdar said terror and intimidatory tactics of the Trinamool and a general tendency of the electorate to vote against the ruling party in parliamentary by-elections cost his party the Asansol seat. Regarding Ballygunge he said, ” Even in last year’s assembly polls, we managed only around 20 percent vote share there. The constituency has a large percentage of minority votes, a part of which has drifted from the Trinamool, “If the minority vote shifts, then naturally the Left and the Congress will gain, and not the BJP,” he said. State CPI-M Secretary Mohammad Salim said the Ballygunge result has proved that the BJP had been pitchforked as a “fake opposition by some brokers” against the Trinamool in the 2019 LS and 2021 Assembly elections. The by-polls were held at a time when our party leaders were busy with our state conference and party Congress. Our workers also may have not been able to understand that so many people will vote for us. The polling percentage was unprecedentedly low for our stay. Had we been able to bring more people to the booths, maybe the results would have been different. “But one thing is clear. The CPI-M led Lef Front is emerging as the only alternative to the Trinamool,” he said. SSP BM

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