Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee made her maiden entry into West Bengal Assembly winning the prestigious Bhowanipore seat by a convincing 54,213 votes, humbling CPI(M)’s little-known candidate Nandini Mukherjee.
Banerjee, who became the first woman Chief Minister of the state in May, had consistently been elected to the Lok Sabha since 1984, except in 1989.
Her victory significantly coincided with a verdict of the Calcutta High Court upholding the Singur land act as constitutional and valid.The ruling TC added another feather in its cap as its candidate A T M Abdullah wrested Basirhat North assembly seat in North 24 Paraganas district trouncing Subid Ali Gazi of CPI(M) by 30,941 votes, officials said.
Banerjee, who had given up her Railway portfolio, to become the chief minister, had to contest the polls within the stipulated six months after assuming office.
She had skipped the assembly contest in April-May on grounds that she needed to campaign for the party to oust the 34-year-old Left Front regime.
While Banerjee was expected to win the poll, all eyes were on her victory margin.
While a high voter turnout of 80.35 per cent was recorded in Basirhat North, it was as low as 44.88 per cent in Bhowanipur in Sunday’s bypoll. In the May election Bhowanipore had recorded 63 per cent voting.
Banerjee had polled 73,635 votes and Mukherjee 19422 votes.
With Wednesday’s victory, the Trinamool Congress strength went up to 185 in the 294-member state assembly. The number of Left Front MLAs came down to 63.
After her win, Banerjee said, “From Singur to Darjeeling we have tried to solve many problems. It is a victory of ‘Ma, Mati, Manush’. I am grateful to them.
“People have reposed faith in us and on our work in the past four months. We will bring back the work culture destroyed by the CPI(M) in past 34 years,” she said.
Despite around 18 per cent fall in voter turnout this time, Banerjee’s popularity was reflected when she got 4,277 more votes than the last time’s winning margin of her party candidate and PWD minister Subrata Bakshi who had won by 49,936 votes.
Banerjee’s share of votes was 77.46 per cent of the total votes polled, party sources claimed.
The bypoll to the Bhowanipore seat which falls in Banerjee’s South Kolkata Lok Sabha seat was necessitated after sitting MLA of Trinamool Congress Subrata Bakshi resigned to make way for the Chief Minister to contest.
The Bhowanipur seat saw a six-cornered contest with the main fight between Banerjee and Mukherjee, a professor at Jadvapur University. The Congress and BJP had not fielded candidates.
In Basirhat North, where six candidates were in the fray, the main fight was between Abdullah and CPI(M)’s Subid Ali Gazi.
The by-poll to Basirhat North became necessary following the death of sitting MLA Mustafa Bin Qasem. Qasem had won the seat by 3,943 votes.
Abdullah had polled 87,889 votes, Gazi 56,948 votes and BJP’s Subodh Chowdhury 6938 votes.