TMC garners over 48% of votes; Left-Congress alliance rejected.
Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee led her party to one of its biggest political victories in the past three decades by single-handedly stopping the BJP juggernaut in Bengal, paving the way for her return as Chief Minister for a third consecutive term.
The West Bengal Assembly polls saw a high-voltage campaign with the BJP putting all its might into the State. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior BJP leaders campaigned vigorously in the State holding several public meetings and road shows.
This was the one of the biggest victories of the Trinamool Congress with over 48 % of all votes polled. In the 2016 Assembly polls, the TMC had won 211 seats and the percentage of votes polled was about 44.9%.
The victory also puts the 66-year-old Trinamool Congress chairperson at the forefront of national politics with all the leaders of Opposition parties congratulating her for the massive win.
There was a close contest in Nandigram. Late on Sunday, the Election Commission of India, on its website, said Ms. Banerjee lost by a margin of 1,956 votes. It said 1,08,808 votes were counted in her favour while Suvendu Adhikari polled 1,10, 764 votes.
Earlier in the evening, the Trinamool Congress had demanded a recounting of votes in Nandigram.
In the minority-dominated districts of Malda and Murshidabad, the ruling party won or was leading in over 80% of the seats. The Trinamool Congress was also leading in a majority of seats of South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly.
The Trinamool Congress was also leading in a majority of seats of South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly. The State’s ruling party was leading or emerged victorious in all the 11 seats in the capital Kolkata.
The BJP’s attempts at polarisation of the electorate were successfully countered by the TMC which invoked Bengali pride. The BJP’s strident war cry of “Jai Shri Ram”, aimed at inciting religious passions, was countered by the Trinamool Congress’s more inclusive “Joy Bangla” and the party was successful in labelling the BJP as a party of Bahiragawtos ( outsiders).
‘Bengal has saved India’
Speaking to the press on Sunday evening, Ms Banerjee described the victory as a “landslide”, and said Bengal’s victory has saved the country.
Speaking about the “money power and muscle power” of the BJP, Ms. Banerjee said she did not expect such a scale of victory.
The Chief Minister thanked the people of the State, particularly women, and said her first task will be to tackle the raging COVID-19 pandemic. And soon after the results were declared, Ms. Banerjee demanded free vaccination for all 140-crore people in the country and threatened to launch a dharna if the Centre does not agree to the demand.
On her defeat in Nandigram, Ms Banerjee said she had accepted the verdict of the people but asked how in just one constituency the vote was against the trend prevalent across the entire State. “It is good I don’t have to go there again and again,” she added.
Reiterating her criticism of the Election Commission over the conduct of the elections and the long-drawn campaign, Ms.Banerjee said she would approach the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court against the poll body.
As the resullts came in, it also became clear that most of the defectors from the TMC who joined the BJP did not do well. Former State Minister Rajb Banerjee was trailing the TMC candidate at Domjur. Similarly, Baishali Dalmiya and Prabir Kumar who quit the TMC to join the BJP were also trailing.
West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh admitted that the people of the State may not have taken the defections well. “It is a lesson for us,” he said.
The BJP had either won or was leading in 73 Assembly seats. Senior BJP leaders like Kaliash Vijayvargiya accepted defeat and said the people of the State want to see Mamata Banerjee as the Chief Minister.
Of the four Lok Sabha MPs who contested the Assembly polls only Nisith Pramanik won from Dinhata. Babul Supriyo, Locket Chatterjee, Jagannath Sarkar and former Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta were all trailing at the time of going to press.
The saffron party could not match its performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections where it was leading in 121 Assembly segments, whereas the TMC improved its performance, ensuring a higher percentage of votes and more seats. In many regions of the State like Jhargram, Purba and Paschim Bardhaman, Uttar Dinjpur, the TMC was able to overcome the BJP challenge.
The experiment of the Samyukta Morcha where Left and Congress had allied with the Indian Secular Front (ISF) was completely ignored by the voters and trends indicate that there may not be a Left or Congress MLA in the Assembly. The only seat that went to the Samyukta Morcha was in favour of ISF chairman Naushad Siddique from Bhangar.
The Trinamool Congress campaign targeting women voters and emphasis on welfare schemes reaped rich dividends for the ruling party. Along with schemes, the TMC organisational strength at the grassroots has worked to its advantage. The ruling party’s slogans of Joy Bangla (Hail Bengal) and Bangla Nijjer Mekei Chai ( Bengal wants its own daughter) struck a chord with people against the BJP’s claim of providing “Asal Paribartan” (real change).