ONLY 18 polling booths saved Congress candidate Abhijit Mukherjee to scrape through with a wafer-thin margin in Jangipur Lok Sabha bye-election in
West Bengal. And, the results in these booths showed a unique feature, defying all logic and in total discrepancy with the overall pattern.
In Jangipur, Congress candidate defeated CPI(M) candidate Muzaffar Hossain by a margin of only 2536 votes. Congress candidate got 3,32,999 votes while CPI(M) candidate got 3,30,383 votes. The seat fell vacant after Pranab Mukherjee was elected President of India. In 2009, the senior Congress leader had won the seat with a margin of nearly 1,30,000 votes. The vote share of Congress came down from 54 per cent in 2009 to 39.01 per cent in 2012, a drop of nearly 15 per cent. CPI(M)’s vote share in this year’s election was 38.71 per cent. In other words, the President’s son Abhijit Mukherjee won the seat by a margin of only 0.30 per cent votes.
Another notable feature of the election was that BJP got more than 85,000 votes while two other parties, SDPI (24,691) and WPI (41,620) polled considerable votes. Though the elections took place after Trinamool Congress split from UPA at the centre and after Congress walked out of the state cabinet, the TMC decided not to contest. The formal explanation was ‘courtesy’ shown by Mamata Banerjee to Pranab Mukherjee. In the absence of TMC, the extraordinary rise of votes for BJP and other two political formations has attracted some attention in political quarters.
CPI(M) has taken a lead in four assembly constituencies while Congress in three. In 2011, Left Front won only one out of these seven assembly segments.
All trends, however, took a U-turn in 18 polling booths in the two village panchayats of Giria Sekendra area under Raghunathganj assembly segments. This area has witnessed severe terror for last few months and most of CPI(M) activists had to flee. Left Front candidate could not enter this area during the campaign. In these booths, CPI(M) agents were not allowed to be present. Congress hoodlums captured the booths and freely voted for hours. The villagers were forced to remain outside the booths. The booth capturing was even recorded in TV footage. Despite repeated requests, police came and stayed just for few minutes. It did not intervene effectively. The CPI(M) candidate had alerted the Election Commission much before about the possibility of booth capturing. But the state election office failed to ensure free and fair voting in these disturbed areas. The result showed that in these booths Congress candidate ‘polled’ 600 to 700 votes while CPI(M) got just 6 to 20 votes. In one such booth (in Patlatola Primary School, Booth no: 23) Congress candidate has got 679 votes out of total 685, while CPI(M) candidate has not got any vote at all. The dreaded criminals from Jharkhand were brought to terrorise the entire area. Congress candidate took a lead of more than 7000 votes from these 18 booths and thus saved the ‘prestige’ of himself and his father on whose name he fought the elections.
CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat termed the result of Jangipur as ‘technical victory’ of Congress. Biman Basu, Left Front chairman pointed towards drastic reduction of votes of Congress. It was because of the anti-people policies of the centre and non implementation of promises, he asserted. CPI(M) Murshidabad district secretary Mriganka Bhattacharya rightly concluded that although the result was formally clinched in favour of Congress through manipulations and terror in the 18 booths, they were morally defeated.
Voting Pattern in 18 Booths
Name of the booth
Labanchoya Primary Schl. (Room-1)
Chandpur Primary Schl. (Room-1)
Labanchoya Co-operative Society
Momintola Primary Schl.
Sonarpara Primary Schl.
Patlatola Primary Schl.
Bhairabtola Primary Schl.
Bhairabtola Health centre
Bhairabtola paschim Primary Schl.
Lalkhandiyar R C H Bhaban
Sekendra G P Bhaban (Room-1)
Giriya Kishmat Primary Schl. (Room-1)
Giriya Kishmat Primary Schl. (Room-2)