By Asit Manohar
Though West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinmool Congress won the by-polls comfortably, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) had something to cheer as they had emerged second at Dakshin Kathi seat where the ‘party with difference’ has garnered near 30 percent of polled votes eroding left and Congress vote banks.
After eleven rounds of counting and six rounds of counting still to go, the ruling Trinamool Congress comfortably ahead of all its competitors Trinmool is leading second-placed BJP by over 36,000 votes. Trinmool candidate Chandrima Bhattacharya has so far garnered 69,633 votes ahead of her nearest BJP competitor Sourindra Mohan Jana, who has polled 33,926 votes. Left representative Uttam Pradhan has collected a meager 12,241 votes in the constituency, which witnessed 82 percent polling on the poll day.
The verdict suggests that TMC is comfortably ahead. It has even increased its vote share compared to 2016, indicating that BJP has failed to eat into its voter base. But, the BJP has been able to consolidate the anti-TMC votes and anti-TMC voters clearly see the ‘party with difference’ as the strongest of all opposition forces.
The Bengal poll trend indicates that demise of Left and Congress, the two dominant forces for nearly six decades, is complete. For all its sound and fury, the BJP though still has a long way to go before it can unseat Mamata Banerjee’s party. If the by-poll trend in any indicator, BJP has so far polled 30 percent of the popular vote, eroding the Left vote base which has now been relegated to third spot. Congress is in distant fourth, only marginally ahead of Nota.