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Trinamul Congress wrests Dhupguri Assembly constituency from BJP, defeats latter by 4,309 votes

Result shows voters of Dhupguri chose development over identity politics, card that BJP had played desperately to retain seat

Avijit Sinha Siliguri Published 09.09.23, 05:58 AM
Trinamul supporters celebrate the bypoll victory in Dhupguri on Friday

Trinamul supporters celebrate the bypoll victory in Dhupguri on Friday Picture by Biplab Basak

The Trinamul Congress on Friday wrested the Dhupguri Assembly constituency from the BJP in a byelection, more than two years after the saffron camp had won the seat.

Nirmal Chandra Roy of Trinamul defeated Tapasi Roy of the BJP by a margin of 4,309 votes.


The result shows voters of Dhupguri chose development over identity politics, a card that the BJP had played desperately to retain the seat.

“I thank the people of Dhupguri for reposing faith in us and voting decisively in our favour in the critical by-election to the Assembly constituency. People in North Bengal have been with us, and trust our strategy of growth, inclusiveness and empowerment. Bengal has shown its mandate, and soon INDIA too will show its preference. Jai Bangla! Jai INDIA!” Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister, posted on X (formerly Twitter) after the result was declared.

When Trinamul came to power in the state for the first time in 2011, the CPM had retained the Dhupguri seat.

However, in 2016, Mitali Roy of Trinamul won the seat and she was defeated by the BJP’s Bishnupada Roy in the 2021 Assembly polls.

“Like in 2021, the contest was between Trinamul and the BJP in the bypoll also. In the 2021 Assembly elections, the BJP had won Dhupguri by a margin of 4,355 votes. Trinamul's victory margin in the bypoll is also slender,” pointed out a senior political leader in Jalpaiguri.

The bypoll was necessitated by the death of the incumbent BJP MLA Bishnupada Roy in July.

Trinamul started playing the development card the moment the byelection was announced.

A number of Trinamul leaders underscored that even though the BJP had won the seat in 2021, the residents received the benefits of all welfare schemes launched by the Mamata government, like in other parts of Bengal.

“The masterstroke came on September 2 when Abhishek Banerjee (Trinamul’s national general secretary) promised that Dhupguri would be a new subdivision by December 31 this year. He addressed a longstanding demand of the residents which had gained ground ahead of the byelection,” said a political observer.

The BJP, on the other hand, resorted to identity politics, keeping in mind that Rajbanshis constitute around 60 per cent of total voters.

The promise of a new subdivision led to a swing in votes.

In 2021, the BJP had secured 45.65 per cent votes, while Trinamul got 43.75 per cent votes.

In the bypoll, Mamata Banerjee’s party could secure 46.28 per cent of the votes, while the BJP’s share came down to 44.23 per cent.

“This little swing of two to three per cent votes helped us win the seat. It is good that we have regained it but we should not be complacent as, despite the non-performance of the BJP lawmakers of the region, it still secured over 44 per cent of votes. For the Lok Sabha polls, we have to augment our support base,” said a Trinamul leader.

Abhishek, who had campaigned in Dhupguri, also congratulated party workers on the win.

“Thank you #Dhupguri, for embracing the politics of development over hatred and bigotry. Saluting every AITC worker for their tireless efforts in connecting with the people. We're committed to leaving no stone unturned in ensuring Dhupguri's all-round development. Joy Bangla! (sic),” he posted on X.

Tapasi Roy, the BJP candidate, said Abhishek’s announcement of a new subdivision turned the table in favour of Nirmal Chandra Roy.

“A section of voters believed in the announcement and voted Trinamul. This is where we lagged behind,” she said.

The result also posed a question about the state leadership of the BJP. This is because, since 2021, the party has failed to win any Assembly seat where a byelection was conducted.

“So far, bypolls have been conducted in eight seats, which include three seats that the BJP had won in 2021 (Dinhata, Santipur and Dhupguri). The state BJP leadership had camped in Dhupguri fordays but eventually lost the seat to Trianmul,” said an observer.

The vote share of the CPM, which contested the bypoll in alliance with the Congress, increased negligibly. Ishwar Chandra Roy, the Congress-backed CPM candidate, secured 6.52 per cent of votes, which is almost similar to the vote share of 2021 when it was 5.73 per cent.

The CPM candidate came third.

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