Udayan Guha of the Trinamool Congress says he stands vindicated. Before suffering the narrowest loss in the 2021 West Bengal assembly elections by just 57 votes, he says, he kept telling the voters of Dinhata in Cooch Behar that BJP candidate Nisith Pramanik wouldn’t remain their MLA for long even if he won.
Guha was proved right on Wednesday as Pramanik resigned as an MLA within ten days of winning the seat, choosing instead to remain the MP from Cooch Behar. Another Lok Sabha lawmaker of the BJP, Jagannath Sarkar, chose the same route as he resigned from his MLA seat of Santipur. The BJP’s seat tally in the state assembly, hence, came down from 77 to 75 and bypolls will now have to be conducted on both seats.
“BJP will remain at 75 seats and will lose both these bypolls. People have been defrauded by both these MPs. Why did they contest an MLA election if they never wanted to serve as MLAs? Everyone’s time has been wasted and the people will teach the BJP a lesson. TMC will win the Dinhata seat by at least 50,000 votes now,” Guha told News18 on phone. Guha represented Dinhata for a decade as the MLA before losing to Pramanik this time.
“I am a loyal soldier of the party and I have done exactly what my leadership has asked me to do…from contesting the elections in the assembly to now resigning as MLA, I have gone by the directions of our leadership,” Pramanik told CNN-News18.
In Santipur, TMC’s six-time MLA Ajoy Dey lost to BJP MP Jagannath Sarkar by about 16,000 votes. Senior Trinamool leader and MLA from Bhowanipore, Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, told News18 that the BJP never had enough candidates to contest the 292 seats and so the party had to put five of its MPs into the fight. “Nearly 140 of their candidates were also ex-TMC. Look at their three MP candidates – union minister Babul Supriyo, Locket Chatterjee and Swapan Dasgupta – all of whom lost,” Chattopadhyay said.
He said the two MPs of the BJP who won, Nisith Pramanik and Jagannath Sarkar, have also resigned as MLAs now. “This is wastage of public money as we will need bypolls now and we would have needed bypolls on MP seats if they had not resigned. All this will now happen in the middle of a pandemic,” Chattopadhyay said. Incidentally, the BJP had targeted Chattopadhyay after Mamata Banerjee shifted from her traditional Bhowanipore seat to fight from Nandigram and chose him to contest from here. Chattopadhyay won the seat easily.
“We have followed the party’s decision which was that we should resign from the assembly seats,” Pramanik said after submitting his resignation to the assembly speaker, along with Sarkar. TMC is confident of winning both these seats, after the big win in the state elections, as well as three other seats that have to go to polls – Jangipur, Samsherganj and Khardah since candidates there have died. The TMC hopes its seat tally will increase to 217.
BJP will continue to have 18 MPs from West Bengal.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh told CNN-News18, “They were sitting MPs and the party had decided to field them in the assembly elections; now the party has decided that they should remain MPs. The two MPs also have expressed their desire to go back to Parliament.”
A senior BJP leader in Bengal said Mamata Banerjee would also need to fight a bypoll to become an MLA in the state assembly as she lost from Nandigram to Suvendu Adhikari. “It would be interesting to see if she fights from her erstwhile seat of Bhowanipore now,” the BJP leader said.