Along expected lines, Mamata Banerjee won the state assembly by-election to the Bhowanipore seat in this city, securing her constitutional right to continue as chief minister of the state.
Subrata Bakshi of her Trinamool Congress, who had secured around 65 per cent of the votes cast during the May assembly polls from Bhowanipore, vacated the seat to enable her to get elected to the state legislature. The by-poll, held last Sunday, had only a 45 per cent voter turnout, against the earlier 63 per cent voting. Banerjee secured 73,635 votes, compared to 19,422 for the CPI(M)'s Nandini Mukherjee.
The Trinamool also scored on another vacant seat, Basirhat North, adjoining Kolkata, won by a CPI(M) candidate in May. The victory in two constituencies, and the high court decision upholding the validity of the law to annul the land takeover at Singur in Hooghly district by the earlier Left Front government for the Tata Nano factory, gave party leaders reason to rejoice.
Banerjee claimed the outcome reaffirmed the trust of voters in her policies. “Maa Maati Manush ('Mother-Land-People', Trinamool's political slogan) has firmed itself. Citizens have voted...this is an indication that our work is meeting aspirations...we will continue to work further (on our policies)," she declared.
Sources in the Left Front say the margins show the chasm between their cadres and the citizenry remains wide. "The people's support continues for Mamata, undoubtedly, as expressed in the mandate (earlier). Left cadres have to go a few miles extra (to convince voters)," said Gautam Deb, senior leader in the CPI(M).