New Delhi: The by-poll for a sitting, but non-MLA Chief Minister in independent India's history has always been a cakewalk.
The fact that Trinamool cadres, Ministers and councillors, along with Mamata Banerjee herself, spent a lot of energy and time showed BJP's nominee Priyanka Tibrewal had fought a difficult battle valiantly. The sickular spin masters would be telling a different story as if Mamata Banerjee had snatched the seat from the saffron party's kitty. But in all these, the debate also necessitates the need to acknowledge that in West Bengal, the politics is between the Trinamool Congress and the BJP.
In the by-poll held on September 30, the CPI-M nominee Shrijeeb Biswas bagged only three per cent votes. The Congress had declined to field a candidate in solidarity with Mamata, whose party is now busy taking in many Congress leaders.
The winning candidate Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, herself polled 71 per cent of votes. Though it is a record, BJP's Priyanka polled 26,428 votes, making it 22.29 per cent. In 2016 polls also, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee had won the seat.
"I am the 'Man of the Match' in this game because I contested the election in Mamata Banerjee's stronghold and got more than 25,000 votes. I will continue doing the hard work," Ms Tibrewal said as trends made it clear that she had lost the race.
Of course, in the April-May summer polls, Trinamool nominee Sovandeep Chattopadhyay had polled 57.71 per cent votes to win the seat, defeating actor-turned-Neta Rudranil Ghosh, who had polled 44,786 votes making it 35.16 per cent of votes polled.
The BJP issued a statement stating, "After being demolished in Nandigram, Mamata Banerjee may have survived in Bhabanipur for now, but it has never happened that a losing candidate chose to thrust herself as the chief minister, in violation of all democratic norms and proprietary."
"The elections were held under an overbearing state administration, with the dark shadow of fear, intimidation and gloom of the post-poll violence hanging over the electorate," the BJP said in the statement.
Former BJP chief Dilip Ghosh was heckled during campaigning. On the run to the by-polls, Mamata was so touchy about her politics that she ensured 'defection' of BJP leader and ex-Minister Babul Supriyo. Mamata's nervousness before the polls was palpable, without a doubt.