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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Trinamul wrests Dhupguri seat from incumbent BJP, settles state election scores

This time around the Trinamul managed to garner 46.28 per cent votes pushing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s share down to 44.22 per cent

Sougata Mukhopadhyay Calcutta Published 08.09.23, 05:39 PM
Representational picture.

Representational picture. File picture

A six-hour counting episode, which looked more like a see-saw ride for both the BJP and the Trinamul Congress, assured that the Dhupguri Assembly seat was wrested back from the BJP by the ruling Trinamul in about the same vote margin with which the former had snatched the constituency away from Mamata Banerjee two and a half years ago.

In the end Trinamul’s Nirmal Chandra Roy, a professor at the local girls’ college, managed to edge past his nearest rival, BJP’s Tapasi Roy, widow of a CRPF jawan killed in a terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir, by a margin of 4313 votes. Interestingly, during the 2021 state polls BJP’s Bishnu Pada Roy had won the seat from TMC on a margin of 4355 votes before his untimely demise forced the by-polls which took place on September 5.

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While the win, the first for the Trinamul Congress since it became a constituent of the INDIA alliance to take on the BJP in the general elections next year, is likely to be a shot in the arm for Mamata Banerjee in her endeavour to consolidate her party’s base in north Bengal, the loss only added to the BJP’s string of defeats in all seven previously held bypolls in the state – Bhowanipore, Dinhata, Khardah, Santipur, Gosaba, Ballygunge and Sagardighi – since the 2021 state elections.

In Dhupguri, a small vote swing in favour of the Trinamul compared to the 2021 polls seems to have done the trick for the ruling dispensation. The party’s candidate Mitali Roy had narrowly lost to the BJP with 43.75 per cent vote share in her kitty compared to the BJP’s 45.65 percent two and a half years back. This time around the Trinamul managed to garner 46.28 percent votes pushing the BJP’s share down to 44.22 percent. The BJP clearly failed to reap benefits from Roy’s dramatic jumping ship on the last day of the poll campaign on Sunday and, indeed, may also have lost a precious few thousand votes from electorates disapproving of the move, poll watchers opined.

The Congress-supported CPI-M candidate Iswar Chandra Roy, a noted folk artist and a former madrasa teacher, failed to leave a mark on the polls and finished a distant third with 6.52 per cent vote share, a minor improvement over the party’s previous tally of 5.72 percent. Trinamul supremo Mamata Banerjee designated the duo’s performance as people’s rejection of their political stand to fight the Trinamul in Bengal despite being in alliance at the national level. “Bengal has shown its mandate, and soon INDIA too will show its preference,” Banerjee posted on X while expressing her gratitude to Dhupguri voters.

The ultimate frustration for the BJP notwithstanding, the day had begun for the party on a positive note. Early trends from the counting centre showed the party candidate Tapasi Roy maintaining the lead, albeit marginally, over her TMC rival. It was only halfway into the 10-round counting that her lead slid into the trail before the Trinamul took it comfortably away in the final two rounds. In the middle though, both candidates performed neck to neck with promises of a nail-biting finish to the hard-fought battle which the BJP was desperate to win to break its jinx of back-to-back losses in the run-up to the general elections.

All three major parties had fielded candidates, all of whom were political greenhorns, from the Rajbanshi community which comprise 60 percent of the electorate of this Scheduled Caste-reserved seat. Trinamul leaders sounded pleased to have successfully won back a section of the community voters who were perceived to have waned during the previous Lok Sabha polls. These leaders, in fact, chose to call the Friday win a “natural build-up” on the party’s performance in the recently-held rural polls where it won most of the gram panchayat seats in Dhupguri’s countryside.

To woo Rajbanshi voters, TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee had announced plans to make Dhupguri a sub-division by the end of this year besides promising to upgrade the Dhupguri Rural Hospital with specialized medical services. “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,” an X post from Abhishek, among the first to respond to the poll results, read.

Attributing the party’s impressive performance in rural polls as the reason behind his confidence in victory, Nirmal Chandra Roy said: “The result hasn’t exactly made me happy. It is, in fact, quite intimidating to suddenly become aware that I now have to fulfill the aspirations for the development of the people of Dhupguri to which I will now give my best shot.”

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