In April when the elections were held, the voter turnout in Bhabanipur was 61.79%. Trinamool Congress (TMC)’s Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay had won the seat with 57.71% votes.
The West Bengal assembly bypolls to the three seats of Bhabanipur, Samsergunj and Jangipur were held on Thursday without any untoward incident. But while Samsergunj and Jangipur in Murshidabad district saw over 75% voter turnout irrespective of intermittent rain till 5pm, Bhabanipur in south Kolkata where chief minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting had only a 53.32% turnout.
In April when the elections were held, the voter turnout in Bhabanipur was 61.79%. Trinamool Congress (TMC)’s Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay had won the seat with 57.71% votes while his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rival had secured 35.16%. It was Mamata Banerjee’s old seat, and Chattopadhyay had to vacate it when his party leader lost in Nandigram to BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari, who is now the leader of opposition in the West Bengal assembly.
Bhabanipur has 2,06,389 voters. The Congress did not contest the seat as its electoral ally, the CPI (M), fielded Srijib Biswas.
“Whenever turnout was high in the past, the BJP did well in Bhabanipur. But given the hype the TMC created in the last two weeks, today’s low turnout proved that voters were not keen to help Mamata Banerjee emerge as a challenger to Narendra Modi in national politics,” said state BJP’s chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya. “We have defeated the chief minister in Nandigram. We will defeat her again,” he added.
BJP also accused TMC of bringing in fake voters to some booths in all three seats. The Election Commission (EC) received around 60 allegations from the BJP but all were found to be baseless, officials said.
Even Banerjee apprehended a low turnout while addressing her first campaign meeting on September 22 as the weather office had predicted the arrival of cyclone Gulab, which later moved towards southern India. “Cast your vote even if it rains. I will suffer if I don’t get even one vote. Don’t be complacent and assume that my victory is ensured. If I do not win, someone else (from the TMC) will become chief minister since we are in the majority,” Banerjee had said.
BJP candidate Priyanka Tibrewal shuttled up and down the constituency since early morning and claimed that even tea stalls and eateries should have remained closed under prohibitory orders.