Bengal witnessed a saffron surge on Thursday (May 23) as the BJP inflicted a deadly blow to ruling Trinamool Congress by winning 16 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state and leading in two other. TMC won 19 seats and was leading in three others till last reports came in. The saffron party was giving the TMC a run for its money even in terms of vote share having polled 40.25 per cent of votes counted so far. The TMC has clinched 43.28 per cent votes. The four-party Left Front that ruled the state for 34 years till 2011 could manage a measly 7.8 per cent votes with its candidates losing deposits in all the seats but one. The Congress, however, fared better by bagging two seats with a vote share of 5.61 per cent. The party’s sitting MP from Baharampur in Murshidabad district Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Maldaha South MP Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury managed to retain their respective seats.
In Asansol, Union minister Babul Supriyo defeated Trinamool Congresss Moon Moon Sen by a whopping margin of 1,97,637 votes. While Supriyo got 6,33,378 votes, Moon Moon Sen polled 4,35,741. BJPs state unit chief Dilip Ghosh won the Medinipur seat by defeating TMC’s Manas Ranjan Bhunia with a margin of 88,952 votes. Ghosh secured 6,85,433 votes and Bhunia got 5,96,481. Bengali superstar Deepak Adhikari, popularly known as Dev, was re-elected from the Ghatal seat on a Trinamool Congress ticket. He defeated former IPS officer Bharati Ghosh, BJP’s candidate, by 1,07,973 votes. Khalilur Rahman of Trinamool Congress won the Jangipur seat by a margin of 2,45,782 votes. He defeated BJP’s Mafuja Khatun. Interestingly, the sitting MP of the Congress, Abhijit Mukherjee, son of former President Pranab Mukherjee, was relegated to the third spot with 2,55,836 votes. Union minister SS Ahluwalia, BJPs sitting MP from Darjeeling who was shifted to the Burdwan-Durgapur seat this time, won the elections by a slender margin of 2,439 votes. He defeated Trinamool Congress’ Mamtaz Sanghamita.
In Darjeeling, Raju Bista of the BJP defeated TMCs Amar Singh Rai by a massive margin of 4,13,443 votes. Actor Mimi Chakraborty, who was pitched in Jadavpur by Mamata Banerjee against BJP’s Anupam Hazra, won by a margin of 2,95,239 votes. She bagged 6,88,472 votes, while Hazra managed 3,93,233. In the Kolkata Uttar seat, TMCs sitting MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay defeated BJP’s Rahul Sinha by 1,27,095 votes. Debasree Chaudhuri of the BJP defeated TMC’s Kanaialal Agarwal by 60,574 votes in Raiganj, once a bastion of the Congress. Sitting CPI (M) MP Mohammed Salim was decimated to the third position, while late Congress stalwart Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi’s wife Deepa Dasmunsi came fourth. BJP’s Arjun Singh wrested the Barrackpore Lok Sabha seat from Trinamool Congress Dinesh Trivedi in a fiercely fought poll battle by a margin of 14,857 votes. Singh bagged 4,72,994 votes, while Trivedi, the former railway minister, could manage 4,58,137 votes. In Bangaon, which has a sizeable number of Matua votes, BJP’s Shantanu Thakur defeated Trinamool Congress’ Mamata Thakur by a margin of 1,11,594 votes. BJP’s Subhas Sarkar won the Bankura seat, defeating state minister Subrata Mukherjee, a veteran politician, by 1,74,333 votes.
The results seems to have shocked the TMC leadership, who declined to comment. As the trends indicated a setback for Banerjee, her residence at Kalighat and party headquarters off EM Bypass wore an abandoned look. Banerjee, who defended her terrain like a tigress since becoming the chief minister in 2011, ending the Left Front’s unbroken 34-year rule, called a press conference at her home in the afternoon which was “cancelled” without assigning any reason. Banerjee didn’t show up and a security guard curtly told journalists the interaction wouldn’t happen. Her strident denunciation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies, including his insistence on pressing ahead with contentious issues like the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the National Register of citizens, had catapulted her to the forefront of the forces arrayed against the BJP and the NDA in the election. The TMC had clinched 34 seats with 39.65 per cent of votes in 2014. Though the Left front pocketed 29.71 per cent votes, it could manage just two seats. The BJP, which was then considered a marginal player, had secured two seats with 17.02 per cent votes, and the Congress four seats, polling 9.58 per cent votes.
Though Banerjee did not hold the planned presser, she took to Twitter to congratulate the winners. “Congratulations to the winners. But all losers are not losers. We have to do a complete review and then we will share our views with you all. Let the counting process be completed fully and the VVPATs match,” she had tweeted before calling the press. BJP’s Dilip Ghosh said the poll results have sounded the death knell for the Trinamool Congress government in the state and Mamata Banerjee’s party has lost the moral right to continue in office. Switching of parties by political leaders ahead of the parliamentary polls appears not to have gone down well with the masses in West Bengal as most of the turncoats are staring at their defeat as counting draws to a close.