Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and its allies swept the
assembly polls in West Bengal Friday ending the Left Front’s
unprecedented 34-year rule.
In the 294-member assembly, Trinamool Congress and allies won 227
seats - a three-fourth majority - leaving the Left Front with 61
seats, its worst showing since coming to power in 1977.
The red fort crumbled under the ‘parivartan’ (change) slogan that
saw the Trinamool-Congress-Socialist Unity Centre of India
(Communist) combine canter to a two-thirds majority leaving the
Left spearheaded by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)
Trinamool won a majority on its own with 184 seats, with the
Congress and the SUCI getting 42 and one respectively. The
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) finished with a miserable
tally of 40. It was a far cry from 2006, when the Left Front got
Among the casualties in the Trinamool Congress wave was state
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and 26 other members of his
state cabinet. Only eight ministers won.
Bhattacharjee went down by a margin of 16,684 votes to former
state chief secretary and first-time contestant Manish Gupta in
the red citadel of Jadvapore, where the Marxists had so far won
every time since the constituency was formed in 1967.
Bhattacharjee, who had been winning the seat since 1987, became
only the second serving chief minister of the state after Prafulla
Chandra Sen in 1967 to be humbled.
Soon after, a crestfallen Bhattacharjee went to Raj Bhavan and put
in his papers. Hours later, Banerjee - mobbed by her loyalists all
day - met Governor M.K. Narayanan.
The Left Front’s defeat was total. Adding insult to injury, many
of the weatherbeaten Left Front politicians suffered heavy defeats
at the hands of opposition nominees - some of them first time
contestants and political green horns.
While Gautam Deb, CPI-M’s star campaigner in the election, lost by
over 31,000 votes, Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta’s margin of
defeat was over 26,000 and Agriculture Minister Naren De finished
about 45,000 votes behind his Trinamool rival. Deb was defeated by
theatre personality Bratya Basu, Dasgupta went down to FICCI
secretary general Amit Mitra, and sports and Sundarbans
Development Minister Kanti Ganguly was stunned by films actress
The Trinamool Congress winners included leader of opposition in
the outgoing assembly Partha Chattopadhyay, Kolkata mayor Sovan
Chattopadhyay, FICCI secretary general Amit Mitra, theatre
personality Bratya Basu, Bengali film action hero Chiranjeet (Dipak)
Chakraborty, and actress Debashree Roy. State Congress chief Manas
Bhuniya also won.
The 56-year-old Banerjee, who left the Congress saying it was not
sincere in fighting the Bengal communists and formed the Trinamool
13 years back in 1998, was third time lucky.
Both in 2001 and 2006, she raised expectations of getting the
better of the Communists in state assembly polls, only to finish
with poor tallies each time.
An overjoyed Banerjee described Friday’s verdict as “historic” and
compared it to the country’s freedom struggle.
Addressing jubilant crowds outside her residence in south
Kolkata’s Kalighat - that erupted in jubilation with supporters
smearing each other in green gulal and distributing sweets -
Banerjee promised to give good governance in the next five years.
“This is a complete victory of democracy… This is a historic
verdict. After 34 years, Bengal has got new freedom,” she
thundered, addressing a crowd of thousands that kept cheering her
with slogans of “Mamata Banerjee zindabad”.
“This is just like a freedom struggle. We want to dedicate the
victory to the people and the motherland,” she said.
Shocked and dejected Left leaders, who even Thursday had exuded
confidence of winning a comfortable majority, termed the verdict
as “unexpected” but promised to play the role of a responsible
In a joint statement, Chief Minister Bhattacharjee and Left Front
chairman Biman Bose said: “The results so far indicate the end of
34 glorious years of Left rule. The result is unexpected. We
accept the mandate of the people and will strive to be a
responsible and constructive opposition in the assembly.”