Kolkata, Dec 4: In another setback to the Left in West Bengal, Trinamool Congress today won the by-election to the prestigious Kolkata South Lok Sabha seat by a record margin of 2,30,099 votes over CPI(M), emerging victorious from the constituency for the seventh consecutive time.
Trinamool Congress candidate Subroto Bakshi, minister for PWD and Transport, polled 5,16,761 votes while his nearest rival Ritobroto Banerjee of CPI(M) got 2,86,662 votes.
The victory margin of Bakshi, also state Trinamool Congress president, one of the trusted lieutenants of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, surpassed the party supremo's 2009 winning figure of 2,19,571 votes and is the highest since the Kolkata South seat came into being in 1967.
The previous highest margin was held by Mamata Banerjee when she won the seat by 2,24,081 votes in 1998 after she broke away from Congress and formed the Trinamool Congress.
With this victory, Trinamool Congress, the second largest ally in the UPA, gets back to holding 19 seats in the Lok Sabha, the figure it earlier had before Mamata Banerjee vacated the seat following her election to the Assembly.
The constituency saw a direct contest between the ruling Trinamool Congress and CPI(M) when it was held on November 30.
There were three Independents in the fray in the constituency, which has an electorate of 15 lakh, but the BJP and Trinamool's ally Congress did not put up candidates.
Bakshi has been one of the loyal lieutenants of Banerjee since the early 1990s.
The constituency, considered a pocket borough of Trinamool Congress, has sent Banerjee to the Lok Sabha six times in a row since 1991.
In the 2004 general elections, this was the only constituency where Trinamool Congress had registered its lone victory.
After delimitation, the seven Assembly segments under the Kolkata South constituency are - Rashbehari, Ballygunj, Behala Purba, Behala Paschim, Bhabanipur, Kolkata Port and Kasba.
Currently, Trinamool Congress holds all the seven assembly segments and the party had a combined lead of 3.25 lakh votes over the Left Front in the May Assembly polls. Significantly, Trinamool Congress has increased its margin from the 2009 polls despite a lower turnout of 51.5 per cent in this by-election compared to the previous election's 66.82 per cent for the seat.
“This result is an indication of the people's growing support for the pro-people policies and development initiatives of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee since she assumed office in May after the landslide victory of Trinamool Congress,” Subroto Bakshi said.
Bakshi said he would work under the guidelines provided by his leader Mamata Banerjee.
CPI(M)'s Ritobroto Banerjee said, “We accept the verdict of the people.”
“It is not that the people have totally rejected us, but we could not convince the people adequately,” he said in his reaction to the verdict.
This is the third victory for Trinamool Congress in as many elections after coming to power in May having earlier won by-elections to the Bhabanipur and Basirhat North Assembly segments.
While Mamata Banerjee won the Bhabanipur seat after it was vacated by party state president Bakshi, Basirhat North seat was wrested by Trinamool Congress from CPI(M), which had won it in the May Assembly polls.