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BJP saves Left in six seats

Calcutta, May 17: The CPM should be grateful to the BJP. Had it not been for the Left’s sworn enemy, the rout could have been worse.

Going by the arithmetic of votes polled, the Opposition combine would have got six more seats in Bengal, including one in Red bastion Burdwan, if the BJP had not cut into its vote share.

The tally of the Trinamul-Congress combine would have then gone up from its current 25 to 31, leaving the Left with a paltry nine seats.

In Burdwan East, the CPM won by a margin of 59,419 votes and the BJP nominee polled 71,632 votes. So, arithmetically, the CPM could have lost the seat in the absence of a BJP candidate.

The same factor decided the outcomes in Midnapore, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, Balurghat and Cooch Behar.

The BJP’s 94,000 votes could have altered Congress candidate Sukhbilas Barma’s fortunes in Jalpaiguri. The CPM won by less than 90,000 votes there.

In Alipurduar, the RSP’s Manohar Tirkey had a winn- ing margin of 1,12,822 but the BJP candidate there got as many as 1,99,843 votes.

So also in Balurghat, where the RSP scraped through with a slender 5,105-vote margin as the BJP candidate took away almost 60,000 votes from the Opposition’s kitty.

The Forward Bloc won Cooch Behar by 33,632 votes. The BJP bagged 64,917 votes. In Midnapore, the CPI’s Probodh Panda may have lost had the BJP not got over 52,000 votes.

A CPM state committee member admitted that the BJP had spared them further blushes. “Going by the arithmetic of the votes polled, the BJP candidates helped our Left Front nominees in all the six seats.”

Mamata Banerjee alleged that the BJP candidates were “the CPM’s dummies”. “We could have won more seats had the BJP not played the spoiler and helped the CPM.”

The BJP, which had fielded candidates for all 42 seats, and won Darjeeling piggybacking on the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, got a substantial number of votes in some other seats too. In Krishnagar, Satyabrata Mookerjee bagged 1,75,283 votes. In Dum Dum, Tapan Sikdar polled 55,660 votes.

When Sikdar won the seat in 1998 and 1999 with margins of over 1.36 lakh votes, it was alleged that a section of the CPM had sabotaged the party candidate’s chances.

BJP state secretary Rahul Sinha attributed the party’s “success” to “our organisational strength across Bengal”.

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