Asim Kumar Mitra
The result of Jangipur (under district of Murshidabad) by election has gone in favour of the Congress. Its candidate Abhijit Mukherjee, son of the President Pranab Mukherjee by a slender minority of 2,536 votes only. Whereas Pranab Mukherjee had won this seat by a margin of more than 1.28 lakh votes in the year 2009. As he became the President of India, this by-election took place.
The result of this by-election has many implications. First of all political observers have recognised that the BJP has emerged as a power to be reckoned in West Bengal elections, as it has snatched 85,887 votes in its ballot box, which has been 8 per cent more than the votes they had received from the same constituency in 2009.
Kolkata edition of Hindustan Times while reporting the parliamentary by-poll results in its issue of October 14 had given the headline as “BJP makes a huge impact” on the front page. The Telegraph of Calcutta had made a banner news on page 1 giving headline as “BJP SHOWS POWER TO UNMAKE”. The news underneath this headline ran as “President Pranab Mukherjee’s son nearly lost it, but the real story from the Jangipur by poll is about what the BJP did and what it could mean for Bengal politics.
“Nobody expected the BJP to win the vote and it didn’t. But many expected the party to improve its vote share and it surpassed the expectation. The crucial question is whether Jangipur is a trend setter for the next big churning in the state’s politics.”
This has to be especially mentioned as the other two parties have cuts a sorry figure so far as vote share was concerned. This time Congress candidate got 3,32,919 votes, 15 per cent less than their vote share in 2009, which was 5,06,749; it meant a loss of 1,73,830 votes. Left party got 3,30,383 votes and in 2009 they got 3,78,600 it meant a loss of 48,217 votes. Left Front or for that matter CPI(M) has got around 2 per cent less votes than their last record. BJP, on the other hand, had got 85,887 votes. But their share of votes in 2009 was 21,721 only. The single largest gainer in this by poll was the BJP, feasting on an additional 64,166 votes.
The second most important feature of this by-poll result was the communal factor of the constituency. Adhir Chowdhury, MP and Murshidabad district Congress president, had declared after the result was announced that it was the communal propaganda of the BJP that had vitiated the whole atmosphere. Especially they had taken up the issue of proposed establishment of a branch of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in sprawling 150 acres of land in Ahiran in Murshidabad to rouse the anti-Muslim sentiments among Hindus and at the same time they have highlighted the fact that how poor Muslim villagers were compelled to part with their land, which infuriated them against the Congress.
Rahul Sinha, state BJP president, said, “We had built up a movement against the forcible occupation of land. Jangipur has 64 per cent Muslims and they resented the AMU decision”. He further alleged the Congress conspired against the BJP and slapped false cases against them to prevent them from entering Jangipur. As a result, neither the state nor the central BJP leadership could campaign for Sudhangsu Biswas (BJP candidate). “If we had campaigned we would have polled much more,” said Rahul Sinha.
Another very important point one has to ponder, in this regard, that Mamata had taken a vow to finish Congress in this state. Keeping that in view she did not field any candidate from TMC. With this act publicly she wanted to pose as if it was an act of gratitude towards Pranab Mukherjee. Secondly, she wanted to ascertain whether Congress has that capacity to win an election without their help. Adhir Chowdhury had accepted the challenge. But now he had realised that they could not match with the Left party let alone they could successfully fight against TMC.
BJP claimed that in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, they would defeat Avijit Mukherjee if he was chosen as Congress candidate. Meanwhile, Adhir announced Abhijit has to be replaced by a Muslim candidate in 2014 or else the Congress would lose the seat. Is this not a defeat of Congress before going to the poll?
The election result of Jangipur could have been a moral booster for the Left Parties for that the CPI (M). But it would not happen as many of their own party men did not turn up to the polling booth to cast their votes. Close watch on the votes polled in favour of the Left party were mostly floating votes and not committed votes. Even then they had managed to get more than 3.30 lakh votes. Yet this number of votes was less by more than 48 thousand votes in comparison to the votes polled in last parliamentary election.