People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 23

June 09, 2013


Left Votes up in Howrah LS Bypoll


IN the second parliamentary byelection after the 2011 assembly elections in West Bengal, Trinamul Congress (TMC) has been able to retain Howrah, but with a heavily reduced margins. The voting took place on June 2. while TMC candidate Prasun Banerjee secured 4,26,273 votes, CPI(M) candidate Sridip Bhattacherjee bagged 3,99,258 votes. Congress candidate Sanatan Mukherjee was in the third spot, polling 96,727 votes. The margin of victory is thus around 27,000. One notes that in the seven assembly segments that constitute this parliamentary seat, the TMC-Congress alliance led by 1,84,000 votes in the 2011 assembly elections.


The primary calculations show that TMC got around 44.53 per cent votes while the CPI(M) received around 41.71 per cent and the Congress secured roughly 10 per cent. In 2011, the Left Front had got 37 per cent votes. In 2011, Left Front was defeated in all seven assembly segments while in 2013 the CPI(M) candidate got a lead in Sankrail and South Howrah constituencies.


The Left Frontís vote share has increased in five out of seven constituencies in comparison with 2011 --- from 33.54 to 40.52 in Howrah North; 31.59 to 38.2 in Howrah Central; 33 to 42 in Shibpur; 38.63 to 45.76 in Howrah South; and 40.82 to 43.6 in Sankrail, while in Panchla it remained almost same.


One of the most intriguing features of this election was the withdrawal of the BJP candidate. It was clearly designed to lend support to the TMC. State BJP president, in his press conference before the elections, urged the voters not to vote in favour of the Congress and the CPI(M) --- a clear enough indication. The BJP received around 37 thousand votes in 2009. The shift of BJP votes towards the TMC is discernible from the results too.


In the run up to this election, TMC applied terror tactics almost in all assembly segments. Left Front activists were attacked, armed miscreants threatened voters, CPI(M) offices were vandalised. The CPI(M) repeatedly urged the Election  Commission to ensure security for campaign and voting. Still, on the day of elections, ruling party activists travelled in motorbikes and forcibly evicted CPI(M) polling agents in many booths. In Bully, North Howrah and Panchla many booths were virtually captured and Left voters were obstructed from coming near the polling booths. The CPI(M) categorically identified 68 booths where rigging and partial booth capturing was done. In 15 more, TMC activists organised unbridled false voting.


Meanwhile, on June 5, the BJP claimed that its decision not to field a candidate had helped the TMC retain the Howrah Lok Sabha seat, but said the drop in the winning margin was a "warning to the TMC."


"It is known to everyone that our decision not to contest the Howrah parliamentary byelection, which was our party decision, has helped Trinamul Congress win and retain the seat," BJP's state president Rahul Sinha told PTI.