West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was sworn in as MLA by Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on October 7 following her victory in the Bhabanipur byelection. On May 5, she was sworn in as Chief Minister after her party returned to power for the third consecutive term even though she herself had lost in Nandigram by 1,956 votes. In the Bhabanipur byelection, her traditional constituency, she won by a record margin of 58,835 votes.
Trinamool Congress leaders Amirul Islam and Jakir Hossein, who had won from Samserganj and Jangipur respectively in the byelections, were also sworn in. Byelections to four more Assembly seats—Khardah, Santipur, Dinhata and Gosaba—are scheduled to be held on October 30. Mamata Banerjee had earlier announced the names of the Trinamool candidates for the byelections: Sovandeb Chattopadhyay in Khardah; Braja Kishore Goswami in Santipur; Udayan Guha in Dinhata; and Subrata Mandal in Gosaba. On September 7, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also announced its candidates: Joy Saha in Khardah, Niranjan Biswas in Santipur, Ashoke Mondal in Dinhata and Palash Rana in Gosaba.
Sabyasachi Dutta returns to Trinamool Congress
On the same day Mamata Banerjee was sworn in, Sabyasachi Dutta, a former Trinamool heavyweight who had joined the BJP, returned to Trinamool. “Accepting” him back into the party, West Bengal Cabinet Minister Partha Chatterjee said that it was “very good news” that Sabyasachi Dutta will be on the side of the Trinamool when the fight against the BJP starts gaining momentum in the coming days. Dutta, the former mayor of Bidhannagar, had left Trinamool in 2019 and had unsuccessfully contested in the Assembly election. Addressing media persons, he said: “I have been a Councillor, Vice Chairman [of the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation], Mayor, an MLA from 2011 to 2021…. all this was possible because of Mamata Banerjee. It is true I had left for another party and there was certainly some misunderstanding between me and the party due to which I left. Today Mamata di has accepted me back… and from today I am on a new path. All I want to say is I will do whatever the party orders me.”
Dutta’s departure served yet another blow to the BJP, which is finding it increasingly difficult to keep its leaders and workers from defecting to the Trinamool. On September 18, Babul Supriyo, former Union Minister and BJP MP from Asansol, joined the Trinamool and in the months following the Assembly elections, four MLAs from the saffron party joined the Trinamool.