Belying pollsters and resisting possibly the largest campaign ever launched against her, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was voted to power for a third time today as results of elections to the State Assembly showed her Trinamul Congress heading for a two-thirds majority.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, whose leaders ironically had claimed not so long ago they would win as many seats as they ended up losing today, was relegated to a distant second place, but will be the main Opposition in the state as this election saw the eclipse of both the Congress and the Left parties.
In an election that saw the conduct of the Election Commission come under sharp focus~ first, for the unprecedented eight-phase polling, then for failing to enforce Covid protocols and finally for the flip-flop at Nandigram~ and was marked by a great deal of acrimony, Miss Banerjee overcame reverses caused by defections of key partymen to show that her grip on a majority of the state’s voters has not loosened.
The results also suggest the Trinamul Congress learnt from the reverses it suffered in the 2019 parliamentary election, and addressed some of the weaknesses that saw it concede ground two years ago. According to the Election Commission of India, the Trinamul Congress had won as many as 153 seats and was leading in 58 more, as of 10 p.m. on Sunday, while the BJP had won 47 and was leading in 32 for a total of 79.
But the joy of the landslide win was marred by conflicting reports of her loss by a narrow margin in Nandigram to former aide Suvendu Adhikari, and of a recount, neither of which were confirmed by the Election Commission. If the BJP managed to make its presence felt, emerging as the principal Opposition party, the actual results were a bitter let-down for the party, as Prime Minister Modi had staked his prestige in declaring his party was set to win over 200 seats after the first few phases of the unprecedented eight-phase election.
Modi and Amit Shah campaigned extensively throughout the state spending almost every other day of a one-anda-half month long bruising campaign trying to breach the TMC’s Fortress Bengal. On the other hand, the political presence of the constituents of the Samyukta Morcha, namely the Left parties and the Congress, which have drawn a blank, has shrunk as never before. The results speak for themselves.
Trinamul Congress has done exceedingly well in South 24-Parganas winning 30 seats out of 31. Trinamul lost its Bhangor seat to a ISF candidate. However, Trinamul Congress won all 11 Kolkata seats. The party did exceedingly well also in Malda, Murshidabad, North and South Dinajpur where except Murshidabad it fared badly in 2019 Lok Sabha poll.
But the TMC has lost a considerable share of Matua votes in Ranaghat Parliamentary constituency of Nadia, where they voted for the BJP, like they did in 2019. However, in North 24-Parganas, the Trinamul has recovered and won 25 out if 33 seats. In North Bengal, BJP won handsomely in Jalpaiguri and Siliguri, with sitting minister Goutam Deb losing to his BJP rival in Debagram-Phulbari.
As a political commentator pointed out, that it was a master stroke for Mamata Banerjee to contest from Nandigram which, despite her own loss there, helped TMC to gain all four seats in Jhargram and most of the seats in East and West Midnapore , Purulia, Bankura and East Burdens which it lost in 2019. In Birbhum too TMC got 10 seats out of 11.