The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came second—with future prospects of becoming the principal Opposition party in the state—in the byelections held in West Bengal.
The results, according to party workers in the state, have boosted their confidence to prepare for the upcoming Panchayat elections due in April this year.
In the Noapara Assembly seat in West Bengal, the BJP polled a little over 38,700 votes against 23,500 in the 2016 Assembly elections, with an increase of about 8% vote share, while the winning Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate Sunil Singh polled over 1,01, 700 votes, compared to 78,453 in 2016.
In the Uluberia Lok Sabha constituency, the BJP’s vote share has increased quite sharply by almost 12%. In 2014, the vote percentage of the BJP stood at 11.55% and it has increased to almost 24% in 2018.
However, BJP candidate Anupam Mallik feels that if a free and fair election had been allowed, the BJP would have won the election in Uluberia.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Mallik said, “In more than 1,600 booths in my constituency, Central forces were not deployed and the Bengal Police had been manning them. Only 400 booths had Central forces, but they were kept outside. We have written to the Election Commission apprising them of this issue. If a free and fair election was conducted in Bengal, the TMC wouldn’t have won either of the two seats.”
He also alleged that the TMC did not allow them to campaign properly. “We were denied permissions to campaign several times. Nobody was allowed to let us a room to make our party office there. There is sheer hooliganism here,” he said.
Some BJP workers have said that it is a new beginning from where the BJP will launch itself in the state. They have also expressed their satisfaction for at least taking the second position.
A senior BJP leader told this newspaper, “We are looking at the positive side of the result. Yes, we could have done better, but in the current political scenario of Bengal, where the Opposition has no space, we seem to have done well. We will increase our presence, but the problem is that the state machinery is working to curb our rise through various means.”
Senior BJP Leader Mukul Roy told this newspaper, “We will have to work harder to achieve the first place. The political atmosphere in Bengal is such that you are not allowed to do Opposition politics at all. Despite that, we have put up a fight. The results will improve in the coming days if elections are held in a free and fair manner.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party has also started to prepare itself at the booth level for the upcoming panchayat elections and has already been holding booth level meetings and training for all its volunteers across districts.