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India News Politics West Bengal

BY-POLL 2022: TMC sweeps Bengal

As Trinamool Congress swept the bypolls for both Asansol Lok Sabha and Ballygunge assembly constituencies in West Bengal on Saturday, the massive decline in vote share for the BJP in both these seats have kept the saffron camp worried with just around two years left for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

In the Ballygunge Assembly constituency, the BJP candidate, Keya Ghosh, finished third by managing only 12.8 per cent of the total votes polled.

In the 2021 Assembly elections, BJP’s Loknath Chatterjee not only finished second, but also secured 20.50 per cent votes.

However, despite Trinamool’s Babul Supriyo winning from Ballygunge, the party will ponder over its declining vote share there.

Supriyo’s victory margin came down to just 20,2208 votes, from the massive victory margin of 75,359 when the party’s erstwhile legislator from Ballygunge, late Subrata Mukherjee, won in 2021.

This time, Trinamool’s vote percentage declined to 49.7 per cent from 70.60 per cent in 2021.

However, CPI(M) has something to cheer going by the votes it polled in the Ballygunge bypolls. The CPI(M) candidate, Saira Shah Halim, not only finished second, but also improved her party’s vote share to 30.1 per cent from just 5.51 per cent in 2021.

More than Ballygunge Assembly seat, the real frustration for the BJP has come from the results in the Asansol Lok Sabha constituency, from where the BJP candidate had won twice — in 2014 and 2019.

This time, Trinamool’s Shatrughan Sinha won by a massive margin of 3,03,209 votes, creating two records on behalf of his party.

Sinha is not only the first ever Trinamool Congress candidate to win from Asansol since the creation of this Lok Sabha constituency, his margin surpassed all past records from Asansol on this count.

The victory margin of Sinha is even more significant since in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the then BJP candidate, Babul Supriyo, won from Asansol by a margin of 1.97 lakh votes.

Political analysts believe that bagging a victory margin of over 3 lakh votes after covering up a past backlog of around 2 lakh votes is something quite rare.

The Asansol results show substantial improvement in Trinamool’s vote share against a landslide vote share decline for the BJP.

In Asansol, the Trinamool improved its vote share to 56 per cent from 35.19 per cent in 2019. On the other hand, BJP’s vote share declined to just 30 per cent this time from 51.16 per cent in 2019.

The CPI(M) managed 7.8 per cent vote share from Asansol this time, which is more or less the same the party had got in 2019 — 7 per cent.

The fact that the decline in vote share is a matter of concern for the BJP was indirectly accepted by the party’s defeated candidate from Asansol, Agnimitra Paul.

“Just two years are left for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The party leadership should introspect the reasons behind this disaster and work accordingly. I do not want to give any excuse for my defeat. I accept the people’s verdict,” said Paul, who is already a sitting BJP legislator from Asansol (South) Assembly constituency.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

Meanwhile, BJP’s Lok Sabha member from Bishnupur in Bankura district, Saumitra Khan, said that the ‘immature’ approach of the saffron leadership in West Bengal led to such a disaster.

After the victory in the bypolls, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee indirectly hinted that playing a key role at the national level in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls is her next target.

“I request the people of the country to have faith in us,” she said.

Political analysts believe that since the 2021 West Bengal Assembly pols, the erosion in vote share of the BJP has just aggravated and the erosion in the bypolls will send an alarming signal to the saffron camp.

“It seems that no strategy or line of campaigning is working in favour of the BJP. Remember, the bypolls happened in the backdrop of so many issues, such as the Bogtui massacre and the Hanskhali minor rape-muder case. But nothing worked for the BJP, which is officially the principal opposition party in the state now,” said political analyst, Nirmalya Banerjee.

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-Top News India News West Bengal

West Bengal Governor prorogues State Assembly

The state government will have to take permission from the governor for the next session and it should begin with his speech, reports Asian Lite News

In an unprecedented move, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar prorogued the state Legislative Assembly from February 12, implying that the state government will have to take permission from the governor for the next session and it should begin with his speech.

“In exercise of the powers conferred upon me by sub-clause (a) of clause (2) of article 174 of the Constitution, I, Jagdeep Dhankhar, Governor of the State of West Bengal, hereby prorogue the West Bengal Legislative Assembly with effect from 12 February, 2022, the Governor in his order wrote.

Prorogation is discontinuing a session of Parliament or a legislative Assembly without dissolving it.

The prorogation order before the important budget session which is likely to commence from the end of February or early March is significant because the ruling party was mulling to bring motion against Governor Dhankhar during the upcoming session, accusing him of interfering in the day-to-today activities of the state government.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

According to constitutional experts, there is no instance in recent history that a Governor proroguing a session of the Assembly without the consent of the Speaker of Assembly or the Chief Minister of the state.

The move came after on Friday, TMC Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Ray had submitted a Substantive Motion under Rule 170 in the Rajya Sabha, urging President Ram Nath Kovind to remove Jagdeep Dhankhar as West Bengal Governor.

“This is an unprecedented move. The Governor has overstepped his constitutional duties because there should be a gap of six months between two sessions of the state Assembly. No Governor of the country has ever done this before. Earlier, he was not giving his consent to several bills and now, he has prorogued the Assembly. This is completely unjust. The state government should move the court against this,” Trinamool Congress MP said.

According to political experts, the order of prorogation is a result of the prolonged conflict between Dhankhar and the state government where the governor has repeatedly alleged that his letters are not replied, his queries are not answered and his constitutional authority is continuously undermined by the Speaker and the state government.

West Bengal Assembly (Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/ IANS)

The governor had also alleged that the bureaucracy, including the chief secretary and the DGP, had failed to present themselves despite several reminders.

The rift between the governor and the chief minister reached a flashpoint after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee recently blocked the Governor on Twitter for purportedly tagging her in all of his posts, criticising her administration. The Governor has been targeting the state government over a host of issues and seeking information and reports regarding appointments to various posts.

Defending the decision, Bengal BJP president Sukanta Majumdar said: “He has the power to do this and he has exercised his power. This has been done because of the misrule of the state government and the continuous defiant stance taken by the administration.”

ALSO READ: WEST BENGAL: Communists in Limbo

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Books Lite Blogs Politics

How Didi Beats Modi in West Bengal?

This is what the book explores as it examines why the BJP lost the plot in West Bengal and what this means for the next General Elections,” says Ghosal…reports Asian Lite News.

In the West Bengal elections of 2021, the longest state polls in the history of India, Mamata Banerjee won the khela, and the BJP lost the plot. How did this happen?

Political journalist Jayanta Ghosal, travelled to all the districts of West Bengal and unearthed certain key factors that helped the Trinamool win the state that he records in “Mamata Beyond 2021” (HarperCollins).

For instance, there was a massive gap in the BJP’s understanding of Bengali identity, which Banerjee was able to exploit. An ‘overdose’ of central intervention, ranging from paramilitary forces to intelligence agencies to target key TMC leaders, added to the BJP’s disconnect with voters. Increasingly, the state felt the divide between New Delhi and Bengal grow.

The book details how Banerjee was successfully able to portray herself as the ‘daughter of Bengal’ who worked tirelessly for the stat’s poor and disadvantaged. It also asks the question: with the state elections under her belt, what will be Banerjee’s path to the General Elections of 2024? Does she consider herself a candidate for the Prime Minister’s post?

“Is Mamata now the No 2 political brand in the country? What is her roadmap for 2024? This is what the book explores as it examines why the BJP lost the plot in West Bengal and what this means for the next General Elections,” says Ghosal.

According to the translator, Arunava Sinha, “This book asks some of the most important questions that will affect all Indians in the next two years leading up to the elections. Most importantly, whether Mamata Banerjee will pay a decisive role”.

“Mamata Banerjee is one politician that everybody is watching and curious about. From her sensational 2021 Bengal assembly win to her plans for 2024, this book goes beyond the headlines to bring us the true story of what makes Mamata Banerjee a fierce political opponent to the BJP in today’s India,” says Swati Chopra, Executive Editor, HarperCollins India.

Jayanta Ghosal, born in 1962, has been a political journalist for the past four decades. He has worked for the Bengali newspapers Anandabazar Patrika and Bartaman, TV channels ABP News, India TV, and is now consulting editor, India Today group. Most of his life has been spent in newsrooms. A journalist, writer, teacher and speaker, he is a student of the history, politics, and culture of West Bengal and eastern India. He has authored several books in Bengali about the region and is also a biographer of Mamata Banerjee.

Arunava Sinha translates classic, modern and contemporary Bengali fiction and non-fiction from Bangladesh and India into English. He also translates fiction from English into Bengali. Over sixty-five of his translations have been published so far in India, the UK and the USA. His recent translations include “The Sickle” by Anita Agnihotri, “Khwabnama” by Akhtaruzzaman Elias, and “Imaan” by Manoranjan Byapari. He was born and grew up in Kolkata, and lives and writes in New Delhi. He teaches at Ashoka University.

ALSO READ-JEALOUSY: Mamata slams Centre’s ‘No’ to Rome tour

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West Bengal farmers allege Rs 100 crore fraud in NHAI compensation

Sen said that the problem started when the base rate of the acquired land did not match the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013…reports Probir Pramanik

A motorcade travels on a dusty road flanked by lush paddy fields towards Chengpara village in the Alipurduar district of West Bengal. Officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), local police officers and district administration officials disembark from the vehicle. They scope the area and depart as abruptly as they came.

The villager, Sabita Roy (50), claimed that the officials often intimidate them through such visits. They want Chengpara’s farmers to accept the compensation given by NHAI for their land that was purchased to construct a highway.

Chengpara, a village dominated by the ethnic Rajbanshi community, is among the five mouzas or Panchayats involved in a legal wrangle with NHAI over land acquisition for the highway. The four other mouzas include Salsalabari, Bhelukdabari, Chaparerpara and Sovaganj.

The NHAI has acquired 170 hectares of land for the extension of a 41 km four-lane highway between Falakata and Salsalabari in the Alipurduar district. It is a part of the east-west corridor of the Golden Quadrilateral connecting Surat in Gujarat to Silchar in Assam. It passes through West Bengal’s rice, jute, and potato fields.

The highways authority started acquiring land for the Rs 1,030-crore project in January 2019. However, the farmers have obtained a stay order on the work from the Jalpaiguri circuit bench of the Calcutta High Court. They claimed they have not received the whole compensation promised by the NHAI.

NHAI has claimed to have disbursed Rs 154 crore Rs 1.20 crore for every 0.1 acre for 22.14 acres of land. But farmers claim to have received only 54 crores. Rs 100 crores are unaccounted for.

Compensation does not tally

About 500 farmers who have given up their land said that the compensation received from NHAI does not tally with a list published by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in a Bengali daily in November 2020.

“The land acquisition process by NHAI has been faulty since the beginning,” said Niladri Sen, the counsel of farmer Sabita Roy, who is yet to receive Rs 6 lakh approximately from the government.

Sen said that the problem started when the base rate of the acquired land did not match the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013.

“The affected farmers received an amount lesser than what they should have received. The compensation that was transferred electronically to the bank accounts of the farmers did not mention what the amount was being paid for,” he said, adding: “When we tallied the bank passbooks, we found that the compensation amounts did not tally with the list published by the Central government.”

Imposters in the fray

According to the secretary of the Krishi Bastu Sangram Committee, Ratan Roy, several people have been compensated by the government for land that they do not own in any of the mouzas.

Some farmers claimed that “imposters” have bagged the bulk of compensation released by the NHAI.

Such is the case of Sabita Roy whose third tranche of compensation was paid to her impersonator’s account in the State Bank of India in Assam’s Bongaigaon. Roy, who has received Rs 11.01 lakh compensation in her bank in Alipurduras in two tranches said that she was awaiting her third payment of more than Rs 6 lakh.

“I have never been to Bangaigaon, let alone open a bank account in the neighbouring state,” she said. “I learned that Rs 5.67 lakh was withdrawn from the said account in Assam by one Sukumar Karmakar, who posed as my father, showing that I was dead.”

She said that she was not against giving her land to NHAI, but she expected the government to compensate her fairly.

Roy challenged the disbursement claim made by the ministry by filing a writ petition before the Jalpaiguri circuit bench of the Calcutta High Court on August 5, 2021.

The ministry, however, claimed that Sabita Roy was compensated with Rs 17.72 lakh with the third tranche of her payment amounting to Rs 5.67 lakh reaching her on September 24, 2020.

Sabita Roy lodged a complaint before the Kotwali police station, but to no avail. She then lodged a written complaint before the Bengal police chief and the Alipurduar district police.

Pinaki Sengupta, the special land acquisition officer and competent authority at the Jalpaiguri district magistrate’s office, directed the Kotwali police to investigate allegations of discrepancy in compensation to Sabita Roy.

On September 30, the single bench of the Jalpaiguri bench of the Calcutta High Court directed officials to measure Sabita Roy’s land on October 2, 2021, including building and structure, and assess the compensation she is entitled to according to the rules.

Seven others and two farmers groups also filed a writ petition before the Jalpaiguri bench of the Calcutta High Court. The NHAI pleaded for adjournment, which the court refused and set the next date of hearing on November 29, 2021.

Krishi Bastu Sangram Committee secretary Ratan Roy said that his mother, Binodini Roy, had received an arbitration notification, saying her land was acquired. But, there were no signs of compensation.

Binodini Roy also filed an individual writ petition before Jalpaiguri circuit bench of the Calcutta High Court.

Allegations of bribery and intimidation

Some farmers claimed they were coerced to give kickbacks’ between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 5 lakh to the government officials through brokers to receive the compensation.

“I was forced to pay a bribe of Rs 1 lakh to Ratan Mandal a technical assistant with the Jalpaiguri land reforms office to get Rs 8 lakh compensation,” alleged Champarani Sarkar (45) who lost 0.8 acres of land to NHAI’s project.

Another farmer Subal Roy said he had to pay a bribe of Rs 5 lakh to the village panchayat head to get compensation for his father’s 0.23 acres of land acquired by the NHAI.

The entire compensation package for the five mouzas in Alipurduars Block-II, has been disbursed by the district treasury office, according to Sanjeev Kumar Sharma general manager and project director of NHAI.

“We disbursed Rs 154 crore through the Jalpaiguri district magistrate’s land acquisition section,” an official, who did not wish to be named, said.

The NHAI has asked aggrieved farmers to contact the special land acquisition officer in Jalpaiguri for matters related to compensation.

“Those who have given their land to NHAI have been compensated as per the arbitral base rates. Only a handful of people in Chengpara are creating trouble by stalling the work on the project,” Sharma said.

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COVID-19 India News West Bengal

Lockdown extended in Bengal till June 15

The government will review the situation again on June 15….reports Asian Lite News

Besides announcing a grant of 1,000 crore for relief operations in areas affected by Cyclone Yaas, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday announced that the restrictions imposed in the state in the wake of the pandemic will continue for another 15 days.

The government will review the situation again on June 15.

Congratulating the people for cooperating with the state government that has led to the slow-down of the Covid infection rate, Banerjee said, “Though the infection rate has reduced, the state government has decided to continue on with the restrictions for another 15 days. We are thankful that the people have cooperated with us and we have started getting good results but I urge the people to bear the hardship for a little longer. We will review the situation on June 15 and then decide the next course of action”.

However, the chief minister announced some relaxations for jute and construction workers. “There have been several requests from Punjab and so we have decided to increase the workforce in jute industry from 30 per cent to 40 per cent but they will have to adhere to all the Covid norms. The construction workers can also go to work provided they have proper vaccination. It is the responsibility of the employers to vaccinate their employees from private places. If they are vaccinated then they can join the work,” the chief minister said. “The rest of the conditions, as declared before, will prevail,” she added.

Mamata Banerjee

Speaking on the occasion of a review meeting with the officials related to relief and rescue work, CM Banerjee said that the government has sanctioned a fund of Rs 1,000 crore for the relief measures but she cautioned that the money should go to the right beneficiaries. Detailing out the mechanism which is in line with ‘Duare Sarkar, the chief minister said, “From June 3 to June 18 there will be relief camps in the affected blocks and Gram Panchayats,where the people will come and register themselves giving the details of their damage along with their personal and bank details. Like ‘Duare Sarkar’ it will be ‘Duare Relief’.

“The government will inspect all the applications for the next 15 days – from June 16 to June 30 — and make a list of the beneficiaries. Once the list of beneficiaries is prepared, the state finance department will start disbursing funds according to the damage and the estimation prepared at the block and panchayat level. The entire disbursement process will be complete by July 8. The money will be transferred directly to the account of the beneficiaries. There will be nobody in between. The transaction will be directly done to the beneficiary by the government,” she added.

ALSO READ: Mamata terrorising over TMC leaders’ arrest: CBI tells SC

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-Top News India News Politics

Saffron party failed to retain Hindu support in Bengal

According to some major post-poll surveys conducted in the state, the BJP’s share of Hindu vote rose from 12 per cent in 2016 to 57 per cent in 2019, but surprisingly enough when the BJP was fiercely campaigning now to garner Hindu support, this came down to 50 per cent, reports Saibal Gupta

Though the BJP has increased its tally in the West Bengal Assembly from three in 2016 to 77 in 2021 – a substantial increase of 74 seats, but down from 121, as indicated by the 2019 Lok Sabha election results. The BJP’s success in the last Lok Sabha elections was a result of extreme polarisation of Hindu votes under Narendra Modi-Amit Shah banner but in the 2021 Assembly polls, the saffron camp failed to retain the level of Hindu support it had secured then, thus ending up faring way below its own expectations and its performance in the last general election.

According to some major post-poll surveys conducted in the state, the BJP’s share of Hindu vote rose from 12 per cent in 2016 to 57 per cent, or nearly three-fifth of the total, in the last Lok Sabha elections, but surprisingly enough when the BJP was fiercely campaigning now to garner Hindu support, this came down to 50 per cent – a substantial erosion of 7 per cent which prevented it from reaching its desired target.

BJP national chief JP Nadda

Interestingly enough, the Trinamool Congress, on the other hand, which had secured 43 per cent of the Hindu votes in 2016 Assembly polls, suffered a loss of nearly 11 per cent and came down to 32 per cent in 2019 Lok Sabha polls but surprisingly enough, it managed to gain the support of 39 per cent of the Hindu votes, including the chunk that the BJP lost.

This 7 per cent had a significant contribution behind the poll mathematics in the Assembly election. Besides the support of the Hindu vote, the Trinamool was successful in garnering the support of nearly 75 per cent of the Muslim and that gave them this convincing victory in the election.

West Bengal polls (Twitter)

The BJP camp might try to find out the possible reasons behind the shift of loyalty of a portion of Hindu vote but one thing is certain that the NRC and the CAA didn’t go down well with the lower Hindu castes of the state.

Also read:Disquiet in BJP big concern for party in Bengal

Though BJP was successful in retaining the allegiance of the upper castes but the lower castes like the Matuas, and the Mahishyas and the tribals have defected from the saffron camp. A little example will be easy enough to drive home the point.

When in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won 69 of the 84 SC/ST seats of the state, in 2021, this number came down to 40 – a loss of 29 Assembly constituencies. Though the BJP maintained its dominance in the Junglamahal and north Bengal but they failed to retain their presence in districts like North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Nadia.

The Mahishyas and the Matuas are mainly refugees who came to Bengal from Bangladesh long back, and the Trinamool was successful in convincing these people that if the BJP comes to power, then they will implement the NRC and the CAA and this will put their life in jeopardy. The fear of going to the detention camp or to another country compelled these people to concentrate under the Trinamool banner and so the BJP’s performance in these three districts was pathetic.

According to some senior BJP state leaders, the party’s aggressive campaign to polarise the votes on religious lines also didn’t pay well. A senior BJP leader who was also part of the election strategy team had also warned the top BJP leadership not to go for an all-out campaign but he was not heeded.

“The Left rule in the state for 34 years has some residual effects on the voters and we cannot deny that. The Left Front in their 34 years rule and before has strictly followed a secular and non-religious stance. The Left leaders maintained an equal distance from both Hindu and Muslim religious festivals. We cannot deny the fact a large portion of the educated middle-class Bengalis and large portion of the senior citizens who are above 60 years are product of this Left movement and they certainly chose the Trinamool above BJP,” a senior BJP leader said.

Also read:Mamata accuses EC of directly helping BJP

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India News West Bengal

MoS Muraleedharan’s convoy attacked in WB

The incident took place when Muraleedharan accompanied by BJP state leader Rahul Sinha was going to Ghatal in East Midnapore to meet some of the BJP supporters…reports Asian Lite News

In a shocking incident, the convoy of Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan was attacked by a group of unidentified miscreants at Panchkhuri area in West Midnapore district on Thursday afternoon.

The BJP alleged that the attack was a handiwork of the TMC goons but it was strongly refuted by the TMC leadership alleging that the BJP leadership is provoking people to resort to violence.

The incident took place when Muraleedharan accompanied by BJP state leader Rahul Sinha was going to Ghatal in East Midnapore to meet some of the BJP supporters who were injured in the attack allegedly by the TMC goons. When his convoy was at Panchkhuri that falls under West Midnapore, suddenly there was brick batting on his vehicle and people came with sticks and other things and stopped his vehicle.

He posted a video on Twitter and wrote, “TMC goons attacked my convoy in West Midnapore, broke windows, attacked personal staff. Cutting short my trip.”

Later speaking to the reporters, the union minister said, “The attack was orchestrated by TMC workers. He said that the incident took place in the presence of police, adding that the Mamata Banerjee government has turned a blind eye. I shall give my report to the central government”.

Also read:Mamata accuses BJP of instigating violence

The Ministry of Home Affairs asked West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar to send a report on the law-and-order situation in the state, sources in the government said.

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the ruling Trinamool Congress is responsible for this. “The Trinamool violence has crossed all limits. So far 14 BJP workers have been killed and lakhs of people have left their homes. This cannot be democracy”.

New Delhi: MoS External Affairs V. Muraleedharan participated in the 27th Regional Forum Ministerial via video conferencing in New Delhi on Sep 12, 2020. (Photo: IANS/MEA)

The Trinamool Congress leadership has strongly refuted the allegation. TMC district secretary of West Midnapore Ajit Maity claimed that nothing had happened and BJP was trying to create sensation.

Speaking to the media, veteran Trinamool leader Sougata Roy said, “Muraleedharan is a person from Kerala. What was he doing in West Bengal? They are now defeated and so they are trying to create disturbance in different areas. The BJP has won in most of the places where there are disturbances. I ask them to go back. We will take care of the law-and-order situation”.

Also read:Cong leaders praise Mamata, ignoring defeat

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-Top News India News West Bengal

Cong leaders praise Mamata, ignoring defeat

Former Union Minster Manish Tewari even termed Mamata as Rani of Jhansi (queen who fought the Britishers). Some are happy but cautioned the party…reports Asian Lite News

After Mamata Banerjee decimated the BJP in West Bengal it was Congress which was overwhelmed to congratulate the TMC for spectacular performance, while many Congress leaders wondered till when the Congress is happy in BJP’s loss.

Former Union Minster Manish Tewari even termed Mamata as Rani of Jhansi (queen who fought the Britishers). Some are happy but cautioned the party. Salman Khurshid said, “Mamata didi’s victory is relief and comfort despite the sacrifice we as Congress must endure. But for both as indeed many others there is need to return to drawing board for sustainable challenge to BJP.”

The reason for happiness is the defeat of the BJP but some said that the TMC leader was with the youth Congress and have worked with many party leaders during her political career and also the party saw hope in her defeat that BJP could be defeated if one works hard.

But some wondered like Ragini Nayak, “till when the party leaders will be happy in BJP’s defeat.” The Congress was the largest opposition party in outgoing assembly and in 2016 it had 44 seats.

But the Congress State President Adheer Ranjan Chowdhury was more direct and said that Congress should come out from Twitter and FB and hit the roads, perhaps this is the opportunity.

Also read:‘BJP’s North Indian strategy won’t work in Kerala’

The Congress scored zero in the West Bengal election and even lost its strongholds, while the party has said that it is committed to course correction. After losing in the state polls the Congress said that the party will “study” the results, correct mistakes and do a course correction.

Congress Chief Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala addressing a press conference on Sunday read out a statement and said, “The Congress Party will definitely study the results and all the reasons diligently and we are committed to correct our mistakes and do appropriate course correction.”

Adhir Chowdhury(Twitter)

Surjewala said the people’s mandate is the final word in a democracy. People of West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry have given their democratic mandate for the next five years. We accept the verdict with humility and a sense of responsibility.

The statement said the party had lost the elections in Assam, Kerala, Puducherry and West Bengal but we have neither lost our morale nor our resolve or determination to continuously become the people’s voice in these times of unprecedented calamity.

Also read:Ramesh alleges CPI-M, BJP of cutting deals

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India News West Bengal

EC suggests TMC to approach HC for Nandigram recount

The commission said that the RO takes a decision which can only be challenged through an election petition under Section 80 of the RP Act, 1951….reports Asian Lite News

Following Trinamool Congress’ demand for recounting of votes in the Nandigram Assembly constituency in West Bengal where Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee suffered a close defeat against her one-time aide Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP, the Election Commission on Tuesday clarified that the “only legal remedy is to file an EP (Execution Petition) before the High Court”.

After the declaration of Assembly election results on Sunday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had approached state Chief Electoral Officer Aariz Aftab demanding recounting of votes in Nandigram, following the Returning Officer’s decision to not allow the same.

The EC on Tuesday made it clear that the Returning Officer (RO) of an Assembly constituency performs statutory functions under the RP Act, 1951 in “quasi-judicial” capacity independently.

Also read:Giant killer Mamata’s tryst with three dates

The commission said that the RO takes a decision which can only be challenged through an election petition under Section 80 of the RP Act, 1951.

The poll panel said that after the counting in Nandigram, the polling agent of a particular candidate (Mamata Banerjee) had requested for recounting, which was rejected by the RO.

“…In such a case, the only legal remedy is to file an EP before the High Court,” the EC said.

The poll panel said that in this regard, the Chief Electoral Officer in West Bengal has made available a copy of the order of the RO and other relevant materials related to counting, while the General Observer for the Assembly constituency has also furnished a report in the matter.

The EC further said that the election related officials on the ground perform in extremely competitive political environment with full transparency and fairness, and therefore attribution of any motive in such cases is not desirable.

Also read:Mamata sworn in as CM for 3rd time

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India News West Bengal

Low voter turnout in South Kolkata

Kolkata Port and Ballygunje recorded a voter turnout of 64 per cent and 59.5 per cent, respectively, as against 64.2 per cent and 66.2 per cent polling recorded during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, respectively…reports Asian Lite News.

According to the data available till 5 p.m., the four Assembly constituencies in South Kolkata, which went to the polls in the penultimate seventh phase on Monday, experienced a low voter turnout as compared to Lok Sabha elections held in 2019.

According to the latest data available, the four constituencies had an average turnout of around 60 per cent, whereas in the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, it was little more than 66 per cent.

Bengal heads for penultimate phase of polling

Major Trinamool Congress, including Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Trinamool youth wing leader Abhishek Banerjee, state Power Minister Shovondeb Chattopadhayay and Urban Development Minister and former Mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation Firhad Hakim, exercised their franchise on Monday.

Banerjee, a resident of Harish Chatterjee Street in South Kolkata, exercised her franchise at a polling booth in Mitra Institution school at around 3.50 p.m. Sitting on a wheelchair, she briefly paused before the photojournalists while coming out amid shouts of ‘Didi, Didi’, before boarding her car. She also flashed a victory sign towards the cameras.

However, former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who is a resident of Palm Avenue and a voter in the Ballygunje Assembly constituency, failed to cast his vote owing to poor health condition.

Among the four Assembly constituencies in South Kolkata, including Kolkata Port, Rashbehari, Bhowanipore and Ballygunge, Rashbehari recorded the lowest turnout at only 55.9 per cent, down from the 66.9 per cent polling recorded during the 2019 general elections.

Bhowanipur, which used to be the constituency of Chief Minister Banerjee, recorded a turnout of 60 per cent, compared to the 66.8 per cent polling recorded in 2019.

Similarly, Kolkata Port and Ballygunje recorded a voter turnout of 64 per cent and 59.5 per cent, respectively, as against 64.2 per cent and 66.2 per cent polling recorded during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, respectively.

As far as vote share is concerned, Trinamool had an edge over the saffron brigade in the last Lok Sabha polls.

Despite a strong BJP wind in the state that helped the saffron party win 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats, Trinamool was successful in holding back its forte in these four seats in South Kolkata.

The Assembly seat-wise analysis shows that Trinamool’s Mala Roy maintained her lead in three of the four Assembly constituencies. Rashbehari was the only constituency where BJP candidate Chandra Bose was able to win over his Trinamool counterpart.

Though the Election Commission deployed 64 companies of central forces, both the Trinamool and the Congress complained of excesses of forces.

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