Mamata Banerjee on Monday instructed seniors in her party to examine the causes of the Trinamul Congress’s defeat in the Sagardighi Assembly bypoll and asked several Muslim MLAs to assess whether the speculated decline in minority support to the ruling dispensation was a reality.
The chief minister met several senior cabinet colleagues and MLAs of Trinamul, including Firhad Hakim and Aroop Biswas, in her chamber at the Assembly. She asked them to analyse the Sagardighi results to figure out what had gone wrong.
“After such a lot of development initiatives, so much work done — for minorities as well — over 12 years, why this result, suddenly? What are the grievances? What are the shortcomings? We must know,” Mamata was quoted as saying at the meeting.
Congress candidate Bairon Biswas, backed by the Left, won the Sagardighi Assembly bypoll by a margin of 22,986 votes on Thursday, defeating Trinamul’s Debasish Banerjee in a constituency that has around 65 per cent minority population and whose support contributed to the ruling party’s stellar performance in the 2021 Assembly elections.
Both state Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and CPM’s state secretary Md Salim said the win reaffirmed their claims that it was possible to defeat Trinamul and the BJP if political forces opposed to them came together.
Mamata, said sources, formed a five-member committee comprising ministers Siddiqullah Chowdhury, Ghulam Rabbani, Sabina Yasmin, Akhruzzaman, and MLA Jakir Hossain to specifically look into the Sagardighi result. She also asked them to assess the situation with regard to minority support — minorities form roughly a third of the Bengal electorate — across the state.
“She told the committee to report to (senior ministers) Firhad Hakim and Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay. They will file a report against the backdrop of Sagardighi for her, which she will go through and take further steps,” said a source.
“Most of the minority representatives told her that there is no cause for fear yet, and the Sagardighi loss was a one-off thing, with people voting against the Trinamul candidate, and not the party,” he added.
The Sagardighi bypoll was necessitated by the death of the sitting Trinamul MLA Subrata Saha, who had won the seat by defeating his BJP rival by 50,206 votes in 2021. The win in Sagardighi has given the Left-Congress camp a much-needed boost ahead of the crucial panchayat polls.
In public, Mamata had already brushed aside the claims of the CPM and the Congress that the result would be a game-changer in Bengal. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, she had hit out at the CPM-Congress and said Biswas rode on BJP votes. Mamata also accused the Left-Congress combine of playing the communal card.