In a formidable showing, West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress wrested the Noapara Assembly seat from the Congress on Thursday and was all set to retain the Uluberia Lok Sabha seat with a huge margin even as the BJP emerged its main challenger. The counting was taken up on Thursday of votes cast on January 29 during the by-polls for both the seats. The Congress was fourth in both the constituencies. In the Noapara by-poll, necessitated by the death of Congress legislator Madhusudan Ghose, Trinamool’s Sunil Singh won by more than 63,000 votes over his nearest rival Sandip Banerjee of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Left Front-backed Communist Party of India-Marxist candidate Gargi Chatterjee finished a close third, after running second in the initial rounds of counting. Trinamool’s Sajda Ahmed had established an emphatic lead of over 2.38 lakh votes against Anupam Mallik of the BJP in Uluberia, which has a large Muslim population. In the 2014 general elections, Trinamool’s Sultan Ahmed had defeated his closest opponent Sabir Uddin Molla of the LF-backed Communist Party of India-Marxist by a little over two lakh votes.
Sultan Ahmed’s death necessitated the by-poll, with the Trinamool nominating his widow Sajda. Molla, who is the CPI-M candidate this time also, is trailing in the third place, far behind Mallik. Three years back, the BJP had managed only 11.55 % of the valid votes in Uluberia. Congress candidate Goutam Bose finished a distant fourth and forfeited his deposit in Noapara, which the party won in the 2016 Assembly polls in alliance with the Left Front. In Uluberia too, the Congress was in the fourth position.