Mamata returns to power in Bengal with a massive mandate for third straight term, though she herself loses in Nandigram

Published : May 02, 2021 22:54 IST

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the Kalighat Temple after it became clear that the Trinamool Congress would win a majority in the West Bengal Assembly Election, in Kolkata on May 2. Photo: HANDOUT/PTI

Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress roared back to power for a third consecutive term with a massive mandate against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Defying all odds and anti-incumbency sentiment, Trinamool (as of 9 p.m. on May 2) had won 117 seats and was leading in 98 seats out of the total 294 seats. Contrary to expectations, the BJP could manage to win only 30 seats and was leading in 45. The Sanyukta Morcha (the alliance between the Left Front, the Congress and the Indian Secular Front) could manage to win only one seat. While the Trinamool polled almost 48 per cent of the vote, the BJP came a very distant second with 38.1 per cent. The Sanyukta Morcha could poll only around 8 per cent. Mamata Banerjee herself, however, lost in Nandigram. The Trinamool Congress has demanded a recount. She may have lost the battle but she did win the war.

In a high-voltage electoral battle that was perceived as a direct fight between Mamata and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Bengal election result assumes tremendous national significance, as it is the most humiliating defeat of Narendra Modi, who personally led the campaign in Bengal and claimed that the BJP would win more than 200 seats. The promise of a “double engine” government that will bring about prosperity and help build a ‘Sonar Bangla’ (Golden Bengal) did not sway Bengali voters. It was, in fact, a most resounding rejection of the Modi’s way.

Addressing the media after victory was certain, Mamata said, “Bengal has saved the whole country… This landslide victory was achieved after overcoming so many hurdles — the entire Central government, Central agencies, the Election Commission which behaved so badly with us. In spite of everything the people of Bengal have saved not just Bengal but humanity, humaneness.” She said that it was a victory for democracy and heralded the fall of the BJP at the Centre.

One of the first priorities of the new government, said Mamata, would be to tackle the ongoing COVID crisis. She has promised free vaccination for the people and said that she would sit in protest if the Centre did not agree to meet her demands. Even as Trinamool supporters celebrated on the streets, 17,515 new COVID cases were recorded on May 2, and 92 people lost their lives. The total number of active cases stood at 1,20,331.

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