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Resounding Victory

It is now pretty obvious that none of the other parties had the wherewithal to put up a fight against the seemingly formidable Miss Banerjee.

SNS | Kolkata |

Mamata Banerjee has entrenched her authority further still with Sunday’s resounding but widely expected victory in the by-election to the Bhowanipore Assembly. Yet another dramatic facet has been the decimation of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communists in what was historically known as Old Calcutta and is now a predominantly Bengali middle class locality, not to forget the psephological reality that she has won in all the wards of the constituency in downtown Kolkata ~ a spectacular achievement in itself.  “We have not lost in any ward.  This is the first time that we have registered victory in every ward,” was her valid and proud boast.

On closer reflection, the Chief Minister’s triumph was never in doubt as an old-time resident of the area; it was the margin of victory ~ an almost incredible 58,832 votes ~ that was the topic of animated debate and speculative cant in the run-up to the vote on 30 September. As it turns out, the margin has quite totally bamboozled the political class. Rival parties have thus far been muted in their response, especially the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Trinamul’s traditional bete noire, whose candidate secured merely 4201 votes.

This is a barometer of the gradual decline of the party over the past decade. It is now pretty obvious that none of the other parties had the wherewithal to put up a fight against the seemingly formidable Miss Banerjee. The state Congress chief, Adhir Chowdhury, has admitted in a rare moment of candour that the Congress was not willing to contest against Miss Banerjee, considering her “political stance” against the BJP in national politics. The Opposition in West Bengal appears to be disoriented. A Trinamul candidate has also won again from Shamserganj where he defeated his Congress rival by a whopping 22,384 votes. Both the CPI-M and BJP contestants lost their security deposits in Shamserganj.  Indeed, it was Trinamul’s day on Sunday, given the massive leads in Jangipur and Shamserganj constituencies, both in the border district of Murshidabad.

Elections to both these constituencies were held in the wake of the deaths of candidates ~ Rezaul Haque (Congress) and Pradip Nandi (RSP) ~ due to Covid and after they had filed their nominations. Having beefed up her position post the by-election, Miss Banerjee can well claim a famous victory and not the least in Kolkata.

She has not only retained her fort but has strengthened it,  though the defeat in Nandigram, where she pitted herself against the defector, Suvendu Adhikari, arguably calls for reflection. Some good ought to come out of the triumph and most crucially in Bhowanipore. And with the Chief Minister now firmly in the driver’s seat, she must put governance into overdrive. There is a lot that needs to be done, although the immediate focus will have to be on dealing with the floods that have ravaged parts of the state.