Kolkata: The quitting of Congress’s lone MLA in West Bengal, Byron Biswas, and his subsequent entry to the TMC may have been an offbeat news item which was put out by all agencies. However, the move is being considered crucial and has been creating ripples in the political circles in the state since then especially ahead of the crucial panchayat.
Days after Congress’s emphatic win in Karnataka, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, not only lauded Sonia Gandhi but also extended support to the Grand Old Party and also said Congress should reciprocate the same attitude towards the TMC if it wants her support.
'Congress should show similar support to other political parties'
"Wherever Congress is strong over its respective states, they should fight and we will support them. However, Congress should also show similar support to other political parties," she had said. "The policy cannot go like TMC supporting you in Karnataka and you go against me in Bengal. If you want to achieve something good, then you have to sacrifice in certain areas," she further added.
Talking to Free Press Journal, Congress leader and lawyer, Kaustuv Bagchi, said, “Poaching is nothing new in TMC regime but this is a big blow to our trust. Those who are in charge of deciding upon candidates need to be extremely cautious before finalising a candidature.”
Biswas’ move may create disenchantment among the voters who entrusted their faith in him. “Those who are committed towards the ideology of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose will never leave the Congress,” Bagchi added.
Sagardighi seat politics
In the 2021 Assembly election, almost 90 percent of the minority vote had gone to the TMC. However, the party was wary about the loss of some minority votes but did not expect to lose the Sagardighi seat.
Sagardighi with a 64 percent Muslim population in the Murshidabad district of central Bengal has been a bastion of the TMC since 2011, with Subrata Saha winning three times on a trot.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the TMC secured 42 per cent of the polled votes in this assembly segment, against BJP’s 23.4 percent, Congress’ 22.7 percent and CPM’s 6.8 percent. In the 2021 Assembly election, Saha polled 51 percent, while the BJP’s share stood at 24 percent and the Left-backed Congress candidate secured only 19.5 percent.
In this by-poll, the Congress candidate won by a big margin of 22,986 votes, securing 47.35 percent of the polled votes.The TMC’s vote share dipped to 34.94 and the BJP’s to 13.94 percent. The result reflects TMC’s loss of support in an area where Muslims dominate the demography. In 2021, the TMC swept all such areas.
During 2019-2020, issues like the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) helped consolidate Muslim votes in the TMC’s favour. It looks like a section of the Muslims has started feeling disenchanted with the TMC and getting out of the fear of the BJP.
This is the first electoral setback for the TMC since returning to power with a thumping majority in 2021 and political observers feel that the victory is likely to rejuvenate the Left-Congress camp ahead of the panchayat elections due in a few months. The panchayat elections are likely to give a clearer picture of the changing political equations, if any, especially if the state is bracing for three-corner contests in the coming elections.