WB Bypolls: Cong Loses Seats, TMC Fails Popularity Test
The Congress, Left Front and Trinamool Congress might have shared the honours of the crucial by-polls in three seats by winning one each, but the result seems to have served as a wake up call for both Congress and Trinamool.

While Congress lost two seats, ruling Trinamool failed a major popularity test since 2011 Assembly polls by coming third in two segments.

With the Left Front managing to snatch away one seat, it became clear that the Front had benefited from the division of votes between Congress and Trinamool.

Though Congress managed to retain Rejinagar seat in Murshidabad district with Rabiul Alam Choudhury as its candidate, the party lost English Bazar in Murshidabad district to Trinamool's Krishnendu Narayan Choudhury and Nalhati seat in Birbhum district to Left Front's Dipak Chatterjee.

The by-poll result seems to have served a severe blow to the political aspirations of Congress, which had hoped to retain all the three seats. Same was in the case of Trinamool which had hoped to pass the by-poll test with a win in all the three seats after it broke alliance with Congress over FDI in multi-brand retail.

The by-polls, which was a test of popularity for all the three parties after the break up of Congress and Trinamool, seems to have sent out a message that both the parties need to stick together if they want to keep the Left Front at bay.

On the part of Left, although it managed to win Nalhati but the voting trends clearly shows that its vote share in all the three seats has dipped since 2011 and the win in Nalhati was only due to the division of votes in that segment.

With the defeat in two Assembly segments, Congress tally in West Bengal Assembly dipped from 42 to 40. The defeat in English Bazar segment of Malda was a loss of face for the party as it was considered a party stronghold.

Riding on the legacy of late Congress leader Barkat Ghani Khan Choudhury 'Barkatda', the Congress had earlier performed admirably during a substantial part of the 34-year Left regime.

Political circles had it that the politics in Malda used to revolve around the dynasty of Barkatda, which in turn had led to power struggle within the district Congress, leading to the switchover of former Congress MLA Krishnendu Narayan Choudhury to Trinamool.

Krishnendu is currently serving as a minister in the Trinamool government.

Mamata Banerjee's party previously in its 13 years of existence has failed to make much dents in the Congress bastions of North Bengal such as Malda, Murshidabad and Uttar Dinajpur.

Political analysts feel Trinamool was able to win the English Bazar seat with a handsome margin of 20,000 votes only due to Krishnendu's credibility as a mass leader of the area.

With this victory, Trinamool increased it tally in the Assembly to 186.

The defeat of Nalhati was not unexpected on the part of the Congress as the seat since 1977 was won by the Left Front partner Forward Bloc.

But riding on the anti-Left wave in the state and the combination of Congress and Trinamool votes, then Congress candidate and son of President Pranab Mukherjee, Abhijit had managed to snatch away the seat from the Left Front.

The seat fell vacant after Abhijit quit his seat to fight Lok Sabha by-polls from Jangipur.

The figures in Nalhati clearly shows that the division of votes between Congress and Trinamool has led to the victory of Forward Bloc candidate with a handsome margin of more than 7,000 votes. With this victory, the Left has increased it tally and now commands strength of 62 members in the Assembly.

The results of Nalhati have also raised eyebrows among the Trinamool leadership as it stood third in the by-poll.

MoS for Railways Adhir Choudhury's influence over the Murshidabad district seems to have played a vital role in the Congress' victory as it managed to take on Humayan Kabir, Choudhury's one-time associate and defector, who switched over to Trinamool few months back and became a minister.

The fight in Rejinagar, which was termed as a prestige fight between Choudhury, a bitter critic of Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee, and his one time disciple Kabir, was won by Congress candidate Rabiul Alam with a handsome margin of 11,000 votes.

In this Assembly segment too Trinamool stood third with Kabir, who had won as Congress candidate in 2011, pocketing just 40,000 votes.

On other hand, the BJP, which is steadily increasing its vote share in Bengal after 2011 Assembly polls, also managed to maintain to increase its vote share in Nalhati segment by more than 2,000 votes.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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