Calcutta, Feb. 28: The Forward Bloc wrested the Nalhati Assembly seat from the Congress because of a split in the non-Left votes but its vote share came down significantly.
The Bloc had held Birbhum’s Nalhati for 42 years before losing to the Congress in the 2011 Assembly polls. The Congress had fought the seat in alliance with Trinamul in 2011.
Dipak Chatterjee of the Bloc won the bypoll by a margin of 7,746 votes, trumping the Congress’s Abdur Rahman. But the Bloc candidate secured only 33 per cent of the 1,67,701 votes polled.
If winning back the Nalhati seat has come as a sense of relief for the Bloc, the decreased vote share has put the Left Front in a tight spot. The party lost more than 6 per cent of its share of votes in comparison with the 2011 Assembly polls.
In 2011, the Bloc candidate had secured 39.25 per cent of the votes although it lost to the Congress-Trinamul alliance nominee by a margin of around 15,000 votes. In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the CPM candidate had polled 40 per cent of the votes.
“It is a cause of concern that we have lost almost 7 per cent votes in the past 21 months. We managed to win the seat only because the anti-Left votes got distributed between the Congress and Trinamul,” a senior Bloc leader in Birbhum said.
The Congress secured the second position in Nalhati getting 28.38 per cent votes. A bypoll was necessitated here after Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit became an MP. The Trinamul candidate got 28.05 per cent votes.
Senior Left leaders in Birbhum said the Bloc lost a considerable share of votes because of an erosion in the lower level of the organisation.
Trinamul, which did not have a proper organisation in Nalhati till 2011, has emerged as a tough competitor for the Congress. The Congress, which had a strong organisation since Independence, seems to be losing hold on the area.