The results of the 10 assembly by-elections in West Bengal once again proved that the people wanted the Trinamool Congress-Congress alliance and the ruling Left Front was losing popularity, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Kolkata on Wednesday. "The anti-Left alliance led by Trinamool Congress was successful in the last Lok Sabha election, by-elections and municipal polls. This election again proved that the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Front is losing popularity and the people want the TC-Congress alliance," he said.
Asked whether he felt that Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee should advance the assembly elections in the state, due in 2011, Mukherjee replied, "I'm not the chief minister. What he does will depend on his own decision." Mukherjee, the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president, was talking to reporters at the Congress office after launch of the party's membership drive.
Mukherjee said the message of voters was clear. "It is proof of the people's confidence in the leadership of Mamata Banerjee and their support for the TC-Congress alliance." Asked why Congress failed to capitalise on anti-incumbency like TC, he said, "it is a fact I have to regret. It is because of organisational weakness."
Praising the spectacular performance of ally Trinamool Congress, which won all seven seats it contested, Mukherjee singled out the wresting of the Belgachia East seat here held since 1977 by late CPI-M stalwart Subhas Chakraborty and contested by his widow Ramala this time. He pointed out that CPI-M had won the Belgachia East by a slender margin in 2006.
The TC's win in Rajgunj in North Bengal was also noteworthy as it was where the CPI-M's 30,000 vote lead in the Lok Sabha poll stood it in no stead and TC won by over 15,000 votes. Referring to Congress losing the Goalpokhar seat to the Forward Bloc in North Bengal which was a blow and the party securing fourth position in Kalchini, Mukherjee said the reasons would be analysed.
Former union minister P R Dasmunsi's wife Deepa Dasmunsi had vacated the seat after she was elected to the Lok Sabha. She had spoken to MUkherjee on Tuesday. "I have sought a report from the North Dinajpur district Congress president on the loss of the seat. Congress Legislature Party leader Manas Bhunia, the party observer at Kalchini, has been asked to submit a report on the poor showing," Mukherjee said.
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-backed independent Wilson Champamari had bagged Kalchini. In the by-election Congress which had contested three seats, managed to retain only Sujapur in Malda district. CPI-M drew a blank losing all five seats it contested, four to TC and one to Congress. The saving grace of the LF was Forward Bloc's victory in Goalpokhar.