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Mamata's invincible fort breached as saffron storm approaches Bengal

BJP has put up its toughest ever fight against Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress pushing Congress and CPM to fringes.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: May 24, 2019, 09.22 AM IST
The Modi wave has reached Bengal too with the BJP set to win nearly 18 seats, up from a mere two in 2014 for the first time in the state’s electoral history.

This is a big blow to the ruling Trinamool Congress as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said that the saffron party would draw a big zero in Bengal and mounted a bitter campaign against the party. Not only was she proved wrong, but her efforts to forge a pan-India united Opposition alliance, have also come to naught. With the TMC’s seat count coming down to almost 22 from 34 in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Mamata’s party, like most of her regional counterparts, does not have much stake in national politics.

Of the total eight assembly seats where by-polls were held, BJP won in four, which takes BJP’s tally from three to seven. Mamata has now more than one reason to worry –– there is a likelihood of defection by TMC MLAs and party workers even at the municipality and panchayat levels. The fact that the BJP is coming back with a stronger mandate is likely to see many defectors from the TMC. Infact, Modi had mentioned at an election rally in Serampore that almost 40 TMC MLAs were in touch with him –– a number which may increase after this result, said BJP insiders.

Mamata needs to concentrate more on her home turf now as her party’s support base has steadily eroded due to factional feuds, particularly due to the highhandedness of her nephew, said sources in the TMC. Mamata maintained a stoic silence after the poll verdict. “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 matched,” she tweeted after the trends started coming.

There was a heavy silence at the Kalighat party headquarters of TMC with Mamata Banerjee confining herself indoors ––the surging crowds outside the CM’s house were missing and the media were kept away. Sources said Derek O’Brien was the only person who was with Didi tweeting messages to winners like Naveen Patnaik and Jagan Mohan Reddy. This was in contrast to the BJP headquarters in North Kolkata. Enthusiastic supporters distributed orange-coloured Rosogolla and smeared people with saffron vermillion.

Of the total eight seats in North Bengal, BJP won seven, barring Malda South. BJP not only retained Darjeeling, but won in tribal-dominated Alipurduar and also wrested Jalpaiguri and Balurghat from the TMC and Raiganj from the CPM.

The result in Darjeeling was yet again an indication of how the TMC’s strong-arm policy and splitting of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha was not successful. The Bimal Gurung backed candidate from Manipur –– Raju Bist –– won by a margin of over 350,000 votes.Malda North, known as Bengal’s Amethi and home of Congress patriarch Ghani Khan Choudhury, has gone to the BJP.

Khagen Murmu, the BJP candidate in Malda defeated Mausam Noor, TMC’s candidate and a member of Ghani Khan’s family, by over 82,000 votes. Despite making multiple attempts, Mamata Banerjee failed to break the hold of the Congress in Malda South and Malda North.

BJP’s gain was also visible in the tribal belts of Purulia, Bankura, Bishnupur, Jhargram and Midnapore. BJP wrested all the five from the TMC here. The other major impact it had seems to be among the Matuas who constitute nearly 40% of the electorate in majority of the assembly segments of Bongaon and Ranaghat, located near the India-Bangladesh border.

With BJP leading in Indo-Bangladesh border constituencies––Ranaghat and Bongaon –– it seems the Citizenship Amendment Bill and NRC campaigns by Modi and Amit Shah have been a hit.

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