Relief for Mamata Banerjee as Election Commission announces byelection dates for three Assembly seats in West Bengal

Published : September 04, 2021 20:51 IST

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee speaks during the inauguration of a factory at Panaghar in Paschim Bardhaman district on September 1. Photo: PTI

Finally West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee can heave a sigh of relief as the Election Commission (E.C.) of India announced on September 4 the dates for the byelections in three Assembly seats in the State, including Bhabanipur, the seat from which Mamata Banerjee is expected to contest.

The E.C. in its order mentions that “considering the constitutional exigency and special request from the State of West Bengal, it [the Commission] has decided to hold byelections in the 159 Bhabanipur AC.” Mamata Banerjee, who had lost from the Nandigram seat by 1,956 votes in the Assembly election, needs to be elected within six months from the date of the announcement of the Assembly election results to continue as Chief Minister. The date of polling is September 30 and the last date of filing nominations is September 13. The results will be announced on October 3.

The ruling Trinamool Congress was getting restless as the E.C. appeared to be taking its time in announcing the byelections. The party had sent several delegations to the commission to persuade it to conduct the byelections at the earliest. The Bhabanipur constituency, which is Mamata Banerjee’s usual constituency, was won by Cabinet Minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay as she had chosen to contest from Nandigram. Sovandeb Chattopadhyay resigned as MLA soon after Mamata Banerjee lost in Nandigram.

Addressing a press conference on September 4, senior leader and Minister Partha Chatterjee said: “We announced our party’s candidate from Bhabanipur quite some time back, and that is Mamata Banerjee…. We can say right now that Mamata Banerjee will win from Bhabanipur with a record margin.” The other two constituencies that will be going to the polls in West Bengal are Samserganj and Jangipur.

While the Trinamool Congress welcomed the development, the State unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) expressed dissatisfaction at four other constituencies being left out. State party president Dilip Ghosh said: “Why elections are held in three Assembly constituencies and not in all the seven where bypolls are pending? Is it an election to help the Chief Minister retain her post? We do not think this is a correct decision.”

Meanwhile, another BJP MLA, this time Soumen Roy from Kaliaganj in Uttar Dinajpur, joined the Trinamool on September 4. This was the third defection from the saffron party within just six days. The BJP, which won 77 out of the 294 seats in the Assembly, has been reduced to just 71, with four having defected and two not taking oath. Lok Sabha MPs Nisith Pramanik and Jagannath Sarkar, who had won in the Assembly elections from Dinhata and Santipur respectively, resigned from the Assembly and were directed by the party leadership to continue as MPs.