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Mamata Banerjee easily wins crucial election to remain Chief Minister

Kolkata : Mamata Banerjee won a resounding victory in the bypoll from Kolkata today, which was crucial for her to continue as the Chief Minister following the defeat at Nandigram. She won with a record margin of 58,832 votes over her BJP rival.

The Chief Minister polled 84,709 votes at the Bhabanipur constituency in south Kolkata — the seat from where she won in 2011 and 2016 as well — breaking her own record of 54,213 votes of 2011. The seat was vacated for her by state minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, who won the April vote by a margin of 28,000-plus votes.

The Chief Minister hailed the results by flashing three fingers to mark the Trinamool’s victory, not just at Bhabanipur but at the Shamsherganj and Jangipur Assembly elections as well. The polls there had been countermanded in April due to the death of a candidate in each of those seats.

I am not doing a victory sign with two fingers. I am holding up three fingers. We fought three elections, we have won all three today. I am not so selfish,” Ms Banerjee said. “Ek, dui, teen, Ma Mati Manush kay dhonnobad din (One, two, three – let’s thank the people),” she added.

“We are grateful we won… I lost in Nandigram but the matter is in court,” she said. “What is most heart-warming is, I have not lost in a single ward in the constituency. In 2016, I had trailed in a couple of wards. Today, I have won in all,” she added.

Priyanka Tibrewal – a lawyer and a long-time resident of the constituency – whom the BJP fielded against Ms Banerjee, polled 24,396 votes. The 41-year-old, who lost from Entally assembly seat in April and in a 2015 civic poll, she has become a familiar name as one of the petitioners in the post-poll violence case against the state government.

“As in every match, one loses, one wins. But not necessary that the man of the match is from the winning team. I am the man of the match,” Ms Tibrewal said after the results were declared. “A little ant tries to climb through a door but falls a hundred times before it can make it. One shouldn’t lose faith,” she added.

BJP state chief Sukanata Majumdar said, “I congratulate the chief minister. The BJP always accepts the people’s verdict. But there is a question mark on how many people voted. Only 57 per cent. The rest didn’t either because they didn’t want to or could not. She said BJP would be erased from Bhabanipur. We are grateful for the support we got.”

Mamata Banerjee, who lost the elections at Nandigram in the April-May polls, needed to be elected MLA before the end of six months to continue as the Chief Minister. She had chosen Nandigram — where her agitation against land acquisition had catapulted her to power a decade ago — as a challenge to aide-turned-foe Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP.

The challenge is viewed as a tonic for her party that was edgy ever since BJP won 18 seats in the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. Her defeat in Nandigram was the one blot on Trinamool Congress’s stupendous victory for a third term in face of the BJP’s powerful election machine.

In the other two assembly seats where results came out today, Trinamool candidate Amirul Islam led by over 10,000 votes at Shamsherganj and Jangipur’s Trinamool candidate Jakir Hossain by 52,528 votes.