TMC retained all seats in city on the back of populist

Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

Kolkata: Trinamool Congress has retained all 14 assembly seats in the city defeating rival BJP by convincing margins in the recent West Bengal assembly poll on the back of populist schemes and the worsening COVID-19 situation, despite the shrill polarisation bid by the saffron party.

The overwhleming support for TMC was seen in Jorasanko, Bhabanipur and Kolkata Port constituencies of the city despite their sizeable mixed populations.

Jorasanko, which has a mixed population with a large percentage of Hindi speaking migrants from other states, elected Vivek Gupta of TMC secured 52,123 votes while his nearest BJP rival Meena Devi Purohit got 39,380 votes.

In Bhabanipur, the only constituency in the state where Union Home Minister Amit Shah held door-to-door campaigning, TMC veteran Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay got 73505 votes while his nearest rival poll debutant actor-turned-BJP leader Rudranil Ghosh secured 44786.

In Kolkata Port seat TMC heavyweight Firhad Hakim secured 1,05 543 votes against 36,989 by his BJP rival Awadh Kishore Gupta.

The poll in the 292 seats of the state was held over a protracted eight phases. Election to two seats were cancelled following the death of their candidates.

Political analysts attributed the clean sweep by TMC in the city to factors like the worsening COVID-19 situation in the state in the later phases, the demand by TMC for clubbing the last three phases on grounds of concern for public health and the continued road show and rallies by heavyweight BJP leaders till the Election Commission”s ban on meetings.

The campaign against BJP by several Left organistaions and minorities uniting to vote en block against the saffron party also played out as favourable reasons for TMC”s win.

The single most important factor that went in favour of TMC was a slew of its populist social welfare schemes like Duare Sarkar (government at the doorstep), Duare Ration (ration at the doorste) and Swasthya Sathi, which is a basic health cover for secondary and tertiary care up to Rs 5 lakh per annum per family. Political analyst Sibaji Pratim Basu said, “During the last phases a perception had gained ground that TMC will retain power in the state. It also weighed in the minds of voters, including the Hindi-speaking Bihari population in pockets of Jorasanko and Bhabanipur.”

He said that the innumerable visits by BJP top leaders from outside Bengal, their shrill polarisation bid, the long polling itinerary and the seeming lack of direction or prior assessment by EC about the emerging situation had led to the perception by the general people that the saffron party is more concerned about vote than the health of the people.

“This perception was countered by TMC”s persistent campaign to club the last phases which the EC ignored. This apparently influenced a section of electorate,” he added.

Other factors are campaign for TMC by parties like the RJD which has influence over migrants from Bihar and BJP not projecting a chief ministerial face, Basu said. The voters of the city, known for their political awareness, were conscious about the difference between Lok Sabha vote and Vidhan Sabha vote while exercising their franchise, he said.

“The trend in Delhi, where BJP suffers defeat in assembly polls but wins Lok Sabba seats appears to have started in Kolkata,” he said.

Among those TMC leaders who won by large margins are Subrata Mukherjee who secured 1,06585 votes against 31,226 of BJP”s Lokenath Chatterjee in prestigious Ballygunge seat.

Another TMC heavyweight Partha Chatterjee bagged 1,14,778 votes against actor-turned-BJP contestant Srabanti Chatterjee from Behala Paschim seat.

In Kasba seat minister Javed Khan polled 1,21,372 votes against 57,750 votes secured by BJP”s Indranil Khan.

In Behala Purba seat Ratna Chatterjee, the estranged wife of former mayor Sovan Chatterje, who quit BJP recently after leaving Trinamool Congress three years back, secured 1,10,968 votes against the 73,540 votes polled by another actor-turned-contestant Payel Sarkar of BJP.

In seats like Shyampukur, Maniktala, Rashbehari, Kashipur-Belgachhia, Entally, Chorangee, Beleghata important party functionaries like ministers Sashi Panja and Sadhan Pandey, KMC ex-mayor-in-council Debashis Kumar, Atin Ghosh, Swarnakamal Saha, Nayna Bandyopadhyay and Paresh Pal won comfortably retaining the seats and proving some poll pundits wrong.

In high profile Tollygunge seat minister Aroop Biswas secured 1,01,440 votes against union minister and Asansol BJP MP Babul Supriyo who polled 51,360 votes.

In adjacent Jadavpur, TMC”s Debabrata Majumder secured an emphatic win over Sujan Chakraborty, a frontranking CPI-M leader. Majumder got 98100 votes against 59,231 won by Chakraborty. BJP”s Rinku Naskar, who had recently left the Left party to join the saffron camp secured 53139 votes.

In all the seats except Jorasanko Trinamool maintained the winning trend from the start of counting and the margin kept increasing as the counting progressed, a political analyst said.

“In Jorasanko, BJP had lead in earlier trends for a considerable time, but Gupta finally managed to push Meena Devi Purohit of BJP behind. The voting pattern of the entire city was decisively against the BJP,” he said adding the results will boost TMC”s confidence level.

In parts of Rashbehari, Bhabanipur segments TMC had trailed behind BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as also in Jorasanko. But the trend changed in the 2021 hustings in an emphatic manner, he added.

According to the district-wise percentage TMC secured over 60 per cent votes in Kolkata, followed by around 30 per cent by BJP. Rest of the votes were shared by other contenders including the Left Front.

BJP candidate from Jorasanko, Purohit said the sudden spike in COVID-19 cases led to many people staying away from voting and this helped TMC.

“Of the 12,000 voters in a ward of Jorasanko not more than 5,000 turned up. This scenario was repeated across the city in the last two phases,” she claimed.

The CPI-M, which failed to make much dent in the city during the 34-year-long regime of the Left Front, saw its vote share reduced substantially since the 2011 assembly polls. This election it drew a blank in the state, the first time since 1952, the analyst said.

CPI-M leader Tanmay Bhattacharya, who lost in Dumdum Uttar constituency, said the party should introspect about the fall in vote share. It should find out if the drubbing had anything to do with the Left decision to ally with a new outfit ISF just before the polls and whether it was no more considered the sole credible force to fight communalism by a section of voters.

BJP state general secretary Sayantan Basu said “Our higher level leadership will analyze results in a threadbare manner and find the factors – if false propaganda by TMC against us had influenced a section of voters and where the Left and Congress votes went”.

Subrata Mukherjee hailing the TMC win said, “This was a decisive verdict by the people of the city against the false campaigning by BJP, the insult to Bengal and its culture by the top BJP leadership. We have always been secure in the belief that people of Kolkata along with rest of the state will overwhelmingly vote for Trinamool Congress.”

He said people cutting across linguistic and religious barriers voted in favour of TMC for its inclusive policies.

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