West Bengal Newsletter
Lok Sabha by-election in Howrah
Asim Kumar Mitra
Post mortem of recently held Howrah parliamentary by-poll has brought forward few peculiar experiences. This seat became vacant with death of Trinamool Congress M.P. Ambika Banerjee. After the debacle in 2011 Vidhan Sabha election the CPM had become a sort of outcaste in the arena of elections – may it be election for Panchayat, Municipality, and by-elections in Vidhan Sabha & Lok Sabha seats. But the result of Howrah Lok Sabha by-poll has given a big jolt to the political pundits. Although the TMC could retain the seat with a slender majority, it had roused a very big question in the minds of political pundits that how and why CPM candidate could increase their vote share by around 4 per cent in comparison to their last record in this constituency. Congress had also done well, although not up to their own expectation.
The first and foremost factor which came to the minds of observers was that the withdrawal of BJP candidate from this by-poll had disturbed all probable calculations. They put forward the idea that this is nothing but a prelude to the future coalition of BJP & TMC at the national level. The immediate consideration was that if BJP does not field any candidate then their votes will naturally go to TMC candidate. The vote result was vivid enough to justify that if BJP had not withdrawn their candidate, the TMC could have been in the swoop There were certain other proofs where it was noticed that Mamata Banerjee during her election campaign in this constituency, did not even mention the name BJP, let alone her usual jibe about this party.
Over and above, both the CPM and the Congress had started a vilification campaign against TMC among the Muslim voters that TMC is destined to join the NDA as they need to establish their national identity which not possible with the help of UPA. Although, time and again, she had been giving call for forming a third front on the national level with the help of regional parties. But the very idea was frustrating for her as she had no faith in Lalu, Mulayam, Mayavati, Jayalalithaa etc. Political pundits took advantage of the situation and fully convinced the floating voters among Muslims and this paid a very good dividend for them. Even committed TMC-voters among Muslims had switched over their support to either CPM or Congress.
In Howrah, a booth wise polling survey done by an influential Kolkata daily named Bartaman had revealed unexpected facts which simply established the erosion of TMC support among Muslims According to the survey it is said that the CPM had concentrated their communal propaganda among the Muslim infested areas of the Howrah constituency. They said that Mamata had no place to go except to hold the hands of incriminated Godhra-riot hero Narendra Modi and BJP had lost no time to withdraw their candidate from by-poll. Muslims were convinced. Hence the result of minority infested areas of North Howrah (Pilkhana) had fetched with the following result: The vote share are as follows: (Table 1)
Mamata and the TMC, throughout the election campaign were shamelessly appeasing the Muslim community. They said that they are the real protector of Muslim community It is under the TMC rule only, that they could expect some prosperity and growth. How Muslim voters reacted to these hollow promises of the ruling party is a dismal testimony of their grudge against the government. For example lets quote the booth-wise result of Ward No. 46:- (Table 2)
More examples can be put forward for the perusal of the readers. As this has become the overall scenario throughout the state, Mamata has become a bit shaky. Nevertheless her dependence on 30 per cent Muslim vote share in the state has started losing its stability. Among 30 per cent Muslim votes, 5 per cent belonged to the non-Bengali Muslims who are more communal and virulent against the majority community and anti-national as well, hence Mamata has started fortifying her camps in the Panchayat election to be held this month.
Booth No. TMC CPM Congress
187 117 157 60
188 144 170 60
189 215 192 55
190 167 159 68
191 177 137 30
192 178 108 63
193 171 239 69
194 116 294 69
195 152 255 46
196 69 163 31
197 211 219 125