West Bengal Assembly by-elections: First litmus test for BJP, TMC after Lok Sabha thriller

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Published: November 1, 2019 4:43:58 PM

The West Bengal Assembly by-elections will be an indication of which way political winds are blowing in the state ahead of the state Assembly polls in 2021.

West Bengal bypoll, west bengal by election, west bengal newsThe BJP faces the challenge of living up to its performance in the parliamentary polls whereas the TMC will try to regain its lost political ground. (File)

West Bengal by-elections: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC) are all set to lock horns and test their political heft in the November 25 West Bengal by-elections. While the TMC and Congress have blown the poll buggle and announced their candidates for the three seats, BJP is likely to announce its candidates in a day or two.

The West Bengal Assembly by-elections will be an indication of which way political winds are blowing in the state ahead of the state Assembly polls in 2021. The by-polls will have political ramifications in West Bengal as it will be held in the backdrop of the BJP’s performance in the recent Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections and in the shadow of the proposed implementation of NRC and tabling of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament.

Also Read | Revealed – BJP’s blueprint for 2021 West Bengal Assembly polls

The by-polls are scheduled to be held in Kharagpur Sadar seat in West Midnapore district, Karimpur in Nadia and Kaliaganj in Uttar Dinajpur which are presently held by the BJP, TMC and the Congress respectively.

TMC has given ticket to the current chairman of Kharagpur municipality Pradip Sarkar from Kharagpur Sadar. A retired school headmaster and a social worker, Bimalendu Sinha Roy is in the contest from the Karimpur seat on TMC ticket. TMC’s Kaliaganj candidate Tapan Deb Singha is the vice-chairman of the local community development block.

The Congress and the CPI(M) have come together after three years. The Congress is supporting the Left’s Karimpur candidate, Golam Rabbi, a lawyer, while the Left is backing Congress candidates in Kharagpur Sadar and Kaliaganj seats. The Congress has fielded retired school teacher and former vice-chairman of Kharagpur municipality, Chittaranjan Mandal from Kharagpur Sadar. In Kaliaganj, Congress has fielded Dhitashree Roy, daughter of the local MLA, whose death necessitated the by-election.

Also Read | ‘People will have to bring us back’, CPM confident of revival in West Bengal

The West Bengal Assembly by-elections will set the stage for the fierce electoral contest between principal political opponents in Bengal — BJP and TMC — after the two were involved in a neck-to-neck contest in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The BJP faces the challenge of living up to its performance in the parliamentary polls whereas the TMC will try to regain its lost political ground. The by-polls will also decide if the opposition Congress and the CPI(M) will remain relevant in the state politics.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the BJP made inroads in Mamata Banerjee’s citadel and won 18 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats, four less than that of the ruling Trinamool Congress. BJP not only improved its tally but also increased its vote share to close to 40 percent, making sharp dents in areas considered strongholds of the CPI(M) and TMC. The BJP’s aggressive penetration in Bengal for the first time since its inception in 1980 came after party’s poor performance in 2016 West Bengal Assembly elections when it won only three seats in the 295-member House.

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