Congress loses a seat each to Trinamool, Left Front

Ruling Trinamool Congress and opposition Left Front snatched a seat each from the Congress, which managed to retain only one seat in the West Bengal assembly by-polls. Minister for Animal Husbandry Humayun Kabir bit the dust in Rejinagar in Murshidabad district.

The by-polls in the three constituencies were held Feb 23, and results were announced Thursday.

Of the three seats where the by-elections were held, the Congress retained power in only one constituency, its stronghold Rejinagar in Murshidabad district.  

Minister for Animal Husbandry Humayun Kabir had defected to the Trinamool from the Congress November last year, and suffered a crushing defeat in the Feb 23 poll.

The Trinamool, however, won from English Bazar in Malda district, while the Left Front partner Forward Bloc wrested Nalhati in Birbhum district from the Congress.

In the May 2011 assembly elections, the Congress had bagged all  the three seats, in alliance with the Trinamool Congress. 

The by-polls were necessitated after sitting Congress legislators from Rejinagar and English Bazar joined the Trinamool Congress and were made ministers.

Nalhati seat fell vacant after Congress MLA Abhijit Mukherjee won the election from Jangirpur parliamentary seat, vacated by his father Pranab Mukherjee after being elevated as the president of India.

In Rejinagar, Congress nominee Rabiul Alam Chowdhury triumphed by 11,722 votes over his nearest Left Front-backed Revolutionary Socialist Party rival, Sirajul Islam Mondal. Kabir finished a poor third.

The Trinamool, however, had the last laugh in English Bazar, where Tourism Minister Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury romped home with an emphatic 20,452-vote margin. Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) candidate Kaushik Mishra was second, while the Congress' Narendranath Tiwari finished a distant third. 

Chowdhury had switched to the Trinamool in Novwember and was rewarded with the ministerial berth.

The only bit of good news for the Left Front came from Nalhati, where Forward Boc nominee Dipak Chatterjee won by 7,742 votes against his closest rival Abdur Rehman of the Congress. Biplab Ojha of the Trinamool ended third.

This was the first election in West Bengal after the alliance between the Congress and the Trinamool snapped, both at the centre and in the states, in September last year.

The Trinamool now has 186 seats, the Congress 40 and the Left Front 61 in the 294-strong state assembly.

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