Supporters of the West Bengal Chief Minister an Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee attend an election campaign rally ahead of the fourth phase of the assembly election, amid the spread of COVID-19 in Kolkata on April 7, 2021. (Image: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri)
The All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) won 213 or 73 percent of the 292 legislative seats in the 2021 West Bengal Assembly elections, while party chairperson and incumbent Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee lost to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Suvendu Adhikari by a margin of 1,956 votes, resulting in one of the most intriguing climaxes on counting day.
This has been the TMC’s best-ever performance in the state assembly elections, both in terms of seats won and vote share. In the 2016 elections, the party had secured 211 seats with a vote share of 44.9 percent, while in 2021 its vote share improved to 47.93 percent.
The inflexible BJP, the key rival to the party in the state, was expecting a stronger performance in the state. However, it could secure only 77 seats -- the second-highest by any party in the state.
For the BJP too, its' the best-ever performance, capitalising mostly on the seats held previously by the TMC. The saffron party's vote share has improved from 10.16 percent in 2016 to 38.14 percent, bagging 74 additional seats in the house.
The Left parties (that ruled the state for decades) and the Congress could not secure a single seat in this election, adding to a significant drop in their vote share compared to the previous four elections.
The closest fight was seen in Dinhata constituency in North Bengal, where the BJP’s Nisith Pramanik beat the TMC’s Udayan Guha by mere 57 votes.
In the previous assembly elections, Udayan Guha had won this seat by defeating Akshay Thakur of the All India Forward Bloc by a margin of 21,793 votes.
Twelve constituencies in the state declared the results with a margin of less than 2,000 votes. Of these, the BJP emerged victorious in nine seats while the TMC in three.
Md. Abdul Ghani in the Sujapur assembly constituency in Malda district won with a margin of 1,30,163 votes--highest in the state--against Congress’s Isha Khan Choudhary. Three constituencies reported wins with a margin of over one lakh votes, all cornered by the TMC.
The TMC has been able to guard 75 percent of its seats from the previous election, having been re-elected in 160 constituencies that it had secured in 2016. Additionally, it bagged 29 seats from the Congress and 20 seats held by the CPM, previously.
Of the 77 seats won by the BJP in 2021, as many as 48 or 62 percent seats were capitalised from the TMC--which they had secured in the last elections; another 15 from the Congress and six from the CPM.
“Yes, it is important that a state party has fought back the full might of the BJP and the central government. But it would be naïve to ignore the expansion of the BJP in West Bengal,” political expert Suhas Palshikar has opined.Note: West Bengal has 294 assembly constituencies; polling at Samserganj and Jangipur assembly constituencies scheduled on April 26 was adjourned due to the death of two candidates in the respective constituencies.