The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal wrested the Sabang Assembly seat from the Congress on Sunday by defeating the nearest CPM contender by 64,192 votes, the results of which were announced on Sunday.TMC received 1,06,179 votes and CPM got 41,987 votes. BJP secured the third position with 37,476 votes while Congress who held the Sabang seat so far was pushed down to the fourth position with 18,060 votes.The bye-election had been necessitated after sitting Congress MLA Manas Bhunia who had won from there as the Congress-CPM alliance candidate in 2016 defected to TMC and had been made the party’s Rajya Sabha MP. His wife Gitarani Bhunia had been pitched as the TMC candidate and she bettered her husband’s winning margin by 15,025 votes. Manas had won in 2016 with a margin of 49,167 votes.TMC attributed the victory to the trust of people in Mamata Banerjee-led government. “People had brought in musclemen from outsiders to put a stumbling block for Mamata. But people have voted wholeheartedly for us. It shows that people have ignored all the canards that the Opposition spreads and have voted against the anti-people policies of the Central government,” said TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee at a news conference in the evening.Manas said the contest of his wife was with him. “We were sure of the win. The TMC leadership only wanted to see if Gitarani could beat me in terms of the winning margin, which she has. I am enjoying my defeat,” he said.CPM candidate Rita Mondal Jana alleged a foul play. “It is the victory of terror, corruption and betrayers. They have not won with people’s votes but the bogus votes cast by a bunch of their cadres. At about 150 booths they had terrorised people and forced them to cast their votes in their favour,” Mondal said.BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said their result was satisfying. “There was hardly any existence of BJP there. We had secured 2.5 per cent vote in the last election. This time the vote share has increased by about 10 times,” he said.Congress leaders were content to put up a ‘brave fight’. “Our organisation was weak there. We did not expect to make any impact there but Congress had put up a brave fight in spite of the police atrocity as well as lawlessness and violence unleashed by the TMC,” said Congress Rajya Sabha MP and former state party president Pradeep Bhattacharya.
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