Shatrughan Sinha And Babul Supriyo Ensure Blockbuster Bengal Bypoll Wins for TMC

After Good Friday came a great Saturday for the Trinamool Congress as the party bagged the West Bengal bypolls with ease. The elections for an assembly and a Lok Sabha seat had national significance as both TMC candidates were former union ministers from the Bharatiya Janata Party. While Babul Supriyo won the Ballygunge assembly constituency by 19,904 votes, Shatrughan Sinha won the Asansol parliamentary seat by a record margin of 3,07,073 lakh votes.

The Left grew in Ballygunge with its candidate and actor Naseeruddin Shah’s niece Saira Shah Haleem seizing the second spot. Not all the Muslim votes in the area went to Supriyo, say analysts.

The Asansol election was particularly significant. It’s a seat the Trinamool had never won. The constituency that was a Left stronghold since the late 1980s was finally snatched by Babul Supriyo for the BJP in 2014 and he retained it in 2019. The singer-politician switched to the TMC after the party’s stunning assembly election victory last year, necessitating a bypoll.

Experts say Asansol is a big gain for Trinamool. The area has a large non-Bengali population, and the TMC was also facing infighting. Moreover, the BJP campaign tried to paint Shatrughan Sinha as “bahari” (outsider). But, despite all the challenges, the TMC election machinery churned out a win.

Party insiders feel that, as pointed out by its national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee during campaigning, this was not a poll to elect but to protest the fuel price hike and other alleged anti-people moves of the BJP-led Centre.

The election victories spurred TMC chairperson and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to tweet.

Mamata’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee who campaigned for both the victorious candidates also tweeted.

Speaking to News18, actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha said, “I am happy the people of Asansol are welcoming me with open arms.”

Babul Supriyo called Shatrughan Sinha’s performance in Asansol, which surpassed his own over there, “poetic justice”. “I will work with Shatru ji in Asansol as well, together, because I know that place like the back of my hand.”

He dedicated his win to the TMC workers, Mamata Banerjee, and other senior leaders of the party and termed it a rap on the knuckles for those who spread “malicious campaigns” against him.

In last year’s state polls, the BJP won two of the assembly seats in Asansol while TMC netted five.

This time, Trinamool took the lead in all seven assembly segments while winning the Lok Sabha seat.

TMC supporters celebrate party’s bypoll wins. Pic/News18

BJP candidate Agnimitra Paul said her party lost in Asansol because of “terror” but also pointed out that it needs a good organisation.

“I will reiterate what King Porus told Alexander… That he wished to be treated like a king treats a king. I expect Shatrughan Sinha to also treat me as a leader. I accept the people’s mandate and will use this experience to revitalise myself and start working. I congratulate Shatrughan Sinha on his win,” she said.

Paul also went on Twitter and apologised to the Prime Minister for her defeat.

The BJP has also alleged that water pouches, green colour and bricks were thrown at Paul’s car by Trinamool supporters when she was coming out of the counting centre, and the police moved her to safety. The TMC has denied the charges.

BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar said, “These were bypolls and the votes generally go to the party in power…Terror too is there…But I am sure we will win Asansol in 2024 (Lok Sabha polls).”

Analysts say this was a sweet victory for TMC though it has to keep an eye on its minority votes, while the BJP needs to come out with new ideas.

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