Calcutta Jan. 9: The Trinamul Congress won the Nandigram Assembly bypoll today by a margin of over 39,000 votes, suggesting that the Left had been unable to stem the slide, let alone narrow the gap, after the panchayat elections.
The margin of defeat is one of the highest the Left has suffered since it came to power. For Trinamul, its victory by 39,549 votes is the highest margin by which any party has won Nandigram since it first voted in 1951.
Trinamul fielded Feroza Bibi, a 60-year-old homemaker who lost her son in the police firing on March 14, 2007. To the people of Nandigram, Feroza was the “Martyr’s mother”.
After the results, Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee said: “Nandigram symbolises the beginning of the end (of Left rule).” The result also underlines “people’s craving for a change of guard at Writers’ Buildings.... We will now work towards ousting the CPM from there”, she said.
The CPM, which had blamed Trinamul for “low-key terror” during the election, was in the mood for “introspection”. “It (the result) calls for introspection,” said state CPM secretary Biman Bose from Kochi, where the party’s central committee was meeting.
“We are going to find out whether our campaign in the area had flaws or if we failed in the face of Trinamul-sponsored terror,” he said.
But Manju Kumar Majumdar, the state secretary of the CPI whose candidate Paramananda Bharati lost, blamed Trinamul’s “raw terror”. “Raw terror won in Nandigram, not Trinamul,” he said.
Since 2007, Nandigram has been the theatre of political violence when the government tried to acquire farmland for a chemical hub that it ultimately had to shift from the area.
Observers said the margin was a pointer that the Left had been unable to stop its votes from shrinking since the panchayat election last May when Trinamul wrested control in Nandigram.
Mamata’s party is expected to make the CPM struggle to retain the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat, under which Nandigram falls. The CPM’s Lakshman Seth holds the seat, having beaten Trinamul’s Subhendu Adhikary.
The results of two more Assembly seats — Para in Purulia and Sujapur in Malda — were announced today.
In the predominantly tribal Para, the CPM’s Minu Bauri won by 40,787 votes but the significance of the result lay in the emergence of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha as a competing force. Its candidate Charan Bauri got 22,850 votes.
A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury’s niece, Mausam Noor, retained family bastion Sujapur. Her mother Ruby Noor, who died, was the previous Congress MLA. Mausam, who practises law in Calcutta, trounced her rival, the CPM’s Haji Ketabuddin, by over 21,000 votes.
In all the seats, the winners were women. Also, all are debutantes on the political stage. Two of them — Feroza and Mausam — are from the minority community, while Minu Bauri is a tribal.
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