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Mamata scores landslide victory in Bhabanipur

 
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 TMC likely to sweep two other seats in WB

Kolkata: Five months after spearheading TMC to a landslide win in the assembly election, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee scored a personal point with a massive victory on Sunday in the Bhabanipur by-poll with a record margin of 58,835 votes.

Her victory, which came after her surprise defeat in Nandigram in assembly elections held earlier this year, was expected by most analysts.

Political pundits and voters were watching out for her margin of victory. By notching up an all-time high margin in this urban constituency in the heart of Kolkata, Banerjee seems to have underlined her popularity in her home state.

Her party, Trinamool Congress, is also looking at a clean sweep in by-polls to other seats in the state, with massive leads in Murshidabad''s Samserganj and Jangipur assembly constituencies, where elections were held along with Bhabanipur on Thursday.

Banerjee, the TMC candidate for the Bhabanipur seat in south Kolkata, secured 85,263 votes. Her nearest rival, BJP''s Priyanka Tibrewal, garnered 26,428 votes, while CPI(M)’s Srijib Biswas polled 4,226 votes, the Election Commission said.

"I want to thank the people of Bhabanipur, West Bengal, who were waiting for these results. The people of Bhabanipur have given a befitting reply to the conspiracy that was hatched to defeat me in Nandigram. I don''t want to say much on a sub-judice matter. The counting is over, and we have won the seat," she said.

The chief minister had earlier lost the Nandigram elections narrowly to her former aide Suvendu Adhikari, now leader of the opposition from BJP in the state assembly. She has since filed a legal challenge to the election result.

"This is for the first time that we have won in all (municipal) wards of this constituency. The margin this time is an all-time high," she said.

Banerjee thanked the ECI for conducting the polls within six months.

"Since the assembly polls started in Bengal, the centre hatched a conspiracy to remove us from power," Banerjee, who had won the seat thrice since 2011 by-poll, claimed.

After Banerjee''s defeat in Nandigram, Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, a state minister, vacated the Bhabanipur seat to facilitate her return to the assembly from the seat.

The TMC had won the constituency in the April-May assembly polls by a margin of around 28,000 votes. The assembly segment has been a bastion of TMC since its inception in 2011.

Bhabanipur which reflects cosmopolitan Kolkata’s linguistic and ethnic mix and has large Punjabi, Gujrati and Hindi speaking communities living cheek by jowl with Bengali speakers.

The chief minister’s home is in the centre of this south Kolkata constituency in the Kalighat area, which also houses an ancient temple to goddess Kali, from whom, some claim the city derived its name.

Reacting to the final round of counting, Tibrewal said she has accepted the people''s verdict with all humility, though she also alleged that TMC had rigged the vote.

"I accept the people''s verdict, my congratulations to Didi. I gave a fight, and the TMC machinery worked full time to indulge in largescale vote-rigging even (though) they were sure about Didi’s (Banerjee’s) victory. I exposed that on the day of polling," she claimed.

The TMC is also ahead in Murshidabad''s Samserganj and Jangipur constituencies, where votes are being counted for the assembly elections.

In Samserganj, TMC candidate Amirul Islam is leading by 26,111 votes after the twenty-fourth round of counting. He secured 96,120 votes, while his nearest rival, Zaidur Rahaman of the Congress, got 70,009.

Jangipur''s TMC nominee Jakir Hossain is leading by a massive margin of 92,232 votes after the twenty-sixth rounds of counting. Hossain secured 1,36,082 votes, while his nearest rival, BJP''s Sujit Das, polled 43,850 votes.

As reports of Banerjee''s massive lead came in, TMC supporters hit streets across the state to celebrate.

On the other side, the state offices of the BJP and the CPI (M) wore a deserted look.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission has directed the state government to prohibit victory celebrations and processions to prevent any incident of post-poll violence.

Tibrewal, on Saturday night, wrote to the Acting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court Rajesh Bindal, urging him to give orders to the police to take preventive steps to avoid incidents of violence after the declaration of the results. 
—PTI