Riding on the anti-National Register of Citizens campaign, West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress on Thursday showed visible signs of revival as it bagged all the three seats in the assembly bypolls by trouncing the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The TMC snatched Kaliaganj and Kharagpur Sadar from the Congress and the BJP, whereas it retained Karimpur with a huge margin. The saffron party emerged in the second position in all the three seats.
The TMC has won Kaliaganj and Kharagpur Sadar seats for the first time since its inception in 1998.
The BJP had bagged 18 seats in the last Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal and had held high hopes from the bypolls. The party had taken huge leads in Kaliaganj and Kharagpur Sadar during the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year.
Although the revived Congress-Communist Party of India-Marxist alliance failed to win a single seat, it played a spoilsport for the BJP in Kharagpur Sadar and Kaliaganj by eating into anti-TMC votes.
Tapan Deb Sinha of TMC won the Kaliaganj by bagging 97,428 votes in a close contest, defeating his nearest BJP rival Kamal Chandra Sarkar by 2,414 votes, Election Commission officials said.
Sarkar took the second position by bagging 95,014 vogtes, while Left Front-backed Congress candidate Dhitasree Roy finished a distant third by securing 18,857 votes.
Kaliaganj is an assembly segment under Raiganj Lok Sabha constituency, which the BJP had won a few months ago. In the 2019 parliamentary election, the party had secured a lead of over 56,000 votes in the segment.
TMC's Pradip Sarkar wrested Kharagpur Sadar seat from the BJP, which came as a shock for the saffron party as it was earlier held by the party's state president Dilip Ghosh before he was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Medinipur seat.
Sarkar defeated Premchandra Jha by a comfortable margin of 20,853 votes. The saffron party had a lead of nearly 45,000 votes in this seat during the Lok Sabha polls.
Sarkar bagged 72,893 votes whereas Jha got 52,040 votes. Left Front supported Congress candidate Chittaranjan Mandal polled 22,631 votes.
Kharagpur Sadar in an assembly segment in Medinipur Lok Sabha constituency.
The TMC candidate for Karimpur, Bimalendu Sinha Roy won by over 23,910 votes defeating his BJP rival Jaiprakash Majumdar.
TMC MP Mohua Mitra had bagged Karimpur in the last polls before she was elected to the Lok Sabha from Krishnanagar.
TMC's Sinha Roy secured 1,03,278 votes whereas his nearest rival Majumdar of BJP bagged 79,368 votes. Congress supported CPI-M candidate Golam Rabbi polled 18,627 votes.
Stunned by the defeat, BJP's Kaliaganj candidate Kamal Chandra Sarkar said confusion over the proposed implementation of the NRC has cost the party the seats.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the TMC's victory in the was in favour of "secularism and unity" and a "mandate against the NRC".