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S.S Ahluwalia's ‘surprise’ win

Ahluwalia was fielded in Burdwan-Durgapur only two days before the nomination deadline

By Abhijeet Chatterjee in Burdwan
  • Published 25.05.19, 4:09 AM
  • Updated 25.05.19, 4:09 AM
  • a min read
SS Ahluwalia The Telegraph file picture

The victory of outgoing Union minister S.S Ahluwalia from the Durgapur-Burdwan seat has come as a surprise for many in the saffron camp, though his margin of 2,439 votes was among the lowest in Bengal this Lok Sabha election.

“We didn’t have much hope of winning the seat as the party first delayed announcing the candidate. The selection of Ahluwalia then faced resistance amid a campaign by Trinamul that he was trying to divide Bengal by supporting Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader Bimal Gurung’s demand for Gorkhaland,” said a BJP worker in Burdwan.

Ahluwalia was fielded in Burdwan-Durgapur only two days before the nomination deadline amid criticism that he had “run away” from the hills, fearing defeat. He did not get enough time to campaign because of the delay either.

Ahluwalia was considered an underdog against sitting MP Trinamul’s Mamtaz Sanghamita, who had won by 1.5 lakh votes in 2014. Many BJP workers were angry and had accused their party of giving Trinamul a “walkover”.

Highlighting his Bengal connection, Ahluwalia, who speaks fluent Bengali, stressed he was born in Asansol as he tried to project himself as a son of the soil.

“I was confident of winning despite Trinamul’s false charges that I was dividing Bengal and had escaped from Darjeeling,” Ahluwalia said after receiving the victory certificate.

On Thursday, however, he had betrayed jitters as the counting went to the wire. The BJP was ahead of Trinamul by just 541 votes during the second last round of counting. The final result: Ahluwalia got 5,98,376 votes and Sanghamita 5,95,937. Trinamul sought a recount but the Election Commission rejected the demand.