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    OpinionsFour Assembly by-polls in Bengal have special significance for BJP

    Four Assembly by-polls in Bengal have special significance for BJP


    Party is in fierce battle with TMC in three seats to retain its hold

    By Tirthankar Mitra

    The four Assembly by-polls in West Bengal, one of which is scheduled to be held at Maniktala in Kolkata and the others to be contested at Bagda, Ranaghat Dakshin and Raigunj hold differing political significance to Trinamool Congress and the Opposition comprising BJP, Left Front and Congress. While Maniktala Assembly segment has been vacated by the death of the sitting MLA, Sadhan Pandey, two other Assembly seats are going for the by-polls as the legislators representing them had stepped down to contest the parliamentary polls.

    Though Trinamool Congress scored a resounding victory in the polls, the two MLAs Krishna Kalyani and Mukut Mani Adhikari, who stepped down and contested as TMC nominees in Lok Sabha lost the elections. Their electoral reverse is all the more humiliating as they lost to inexperienced BJP candidates.

    It is up to these two candidates to prove to the top leadership of the TMC to substantiate that their support base is intact. It is the only way the duo can ensure their nomination in 2026 Assembly elections with just two years to go before it.

    And they ought not to try too hard as going by conventional political norms, the ruling party nominees hold a definite edge against Opposition nominees. The right-wing camp and the Left, having earlier criticised the social security schemes of TMC dispensation as “dole ” have had to eat their words.

    The TMC nominees will continue to enjoy the popularity of these schemes among the voters. Yet they can take these voters for granted at their own peril. For the voters of the three suburban constituencies belong to Lok Sabhas where BJP nominees have won. It is a pointer to the underlying support to the BJP which has not been swayed by the TMC wave which swept the state in last Lok Sabha polls.

    The cohesion of coalition partners Congress and CPI(M) has remained during these coming by-elections. But two other Left Front nominees Forward Bloc and RSP have made it clear that they will not be participants to alliance with Congress in future in West Bengal and the by-elections mark the parting of ways.

    Vacated by the passing away of state cooperation department minister, Sadhan Pandey Maniktala Assembly segment has been the cynosure of all eyes. The Trinamool nominee and the previous MLA's widow Supti Pandey ought to have been sitting pretty given her late husband's support base and the sympathy factor for the bereaved nominee.

    Moreover, the BJP candidate Kalyan Choubey pitted against the TMC nominee in this by-election lost to Sadhan Pandey in 2021 Assembly polls. But given the narrow margin of lead of TMC Lok Sabha nominee for Kolkata (North) Sudip Bandopadhaya from Maniktala, there is no room for complacency for the TMC nominee. The TMC workers are working round the clock to ensure the victory of Pandey.

    It remains to be seen whom the residents of several private housing estates vote for after “bike and auto” brigades of allegedly TMC activists zoomed through them in intimidatory mode after Lok Sabha poll results were declared. The residents had reportedly not voted for the ruling dispensation of the state. And therefore faced the wrath of the TMC cadres.

    Things came to such a pass that chief minister Mamata Banerjee stated to be keeping the by-election in mind sent her representative to apologise to the terror stricken residents who had merely exercised their franchise. Intra-party squabble is another cross the TMC nominee is aware of and which can reduce her victory margin.

    Rajib Majumdar, the CPI(M) nominee from Maniktala will take on Pandey, the TMC candidate. Aided by local Congress activists, he will try to tap whatever support base remains of the Left and the Congress in this constituency. The BJP is the main rival, still the CPI(M) candidate aided by the young cadres of Kolkata district committee are working hard.

    Come any election in the Matua belt, a member of the Thakurbari, a guiding light to the community, takes part in the poll fray. At Bagda by-poll, it is Madhuparna Thakur who is the TMC nominee.

    While the TMC nominee is the daughter of Matua Rajya Sabha member Mamatabala Thakur , the BJP has made Benoy Kumar Biswas, a Matua himself as its candidate. The Forward Bloc has its nominee Gour Biswas, the son of five time FB MLA Kamalakshi Biswas. Apparently, the TMC and BJP nominees are evenly matched though Thakur has a leg up. It remains to be seen how much his father's support base Biswas can regain.

    Adhering to coalition politics, the Congress has been allotted Raigunj by the Left. Mohit Sengupta, who once represented this Assembly segment, will take on TMC's Krishna Kalyani and BJP's Manash Kumar Ghosh. Kalyani, a BJP MLA had defected to TMC and unsuccessfully contested Raigunj Lok Sabha. He has a support base in this Assembly segment.

    Matua factor can make a difference in Ranaghat Dakshin Assembly segment. Mukut Mani Adhikari of TMC who contested a Lok Sabha stepping down from an Assembly segment took on Manoj Kumar Biswas of BJP and Arindam Biswas of CPI(M). . The Congress still has some pockets of influence in this assembly seat. The CPI(M) depends on that.

    The stakes are indeed high for the TMC candidate as this Assembly segment is part of a Lok Sabha won by BJP though the issues and voting pattern of the two elections vastly differ. The bypoll results have political significance for both the TMC and the BJP. The results will show whether the BJP has lost its base further as there has been a lot of disappointment among the BJP cadres after the result were out on June 4.

    As regards the Left Front, the political influence of the CPI(M) and its partners has reached its lowest ebb. There has been no signs of any turnaround. The CPI(M) is contesting in two seats. The party leadership will be happy if its candidates can emerge as the second party by defeating the BJP in the by polls. Indications suggest that the chances are remote, the electoral fight is limited to the TMC and the BJP candidates. The voters in general, except a few committed voters of the party, are not taking CPI(M) as a serious contestant. (IPA Service)




    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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