The West Bengal BJP on Sunday said the results of the three Assembly by-polls in the state are not in line with their expectations, and they are accepting the outcome gracefully.
Sukanta Majumdar, the Bengal unit chief of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said: "We need to understand that a large number of people couldn't come to vote or they were not allowed to come to vote. But one thing we should keep in mind is that the chief minister Mamata Banerjee thought that she would wipe out BJP from Bhabanipur but that has not happened."
"We are overwhelmed by the support of the people who despite all the odds, have come out and voted for us. This will inspire us to fight with a new spirit in future. There are four by-elections in October and we hope that we will do better in these elections," Majumdar said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee secured 84,709 votes, decisively defeating BJP's Priyanka Tibrewal who secured 26,350 votes in the make or break Bhabanipur by-poll, while CPI-M's Shreejib Biwas managed to get only 4,201 votes. In Jangipur and Samserganj too, the Trinamool has maintained decisive leads.
"This is for the first time that we have won in all (municipal) wards of this constituency. The margin this time is an all-time high," she said. Banerjee thanked the ECI for conducting the polls within six months.
"Since the assembly polls started in Bengal, the centre hatched a conspiracy to remove us from power," Banerjee, who had won the seat thrice since 2011 by-poll, claimed.
Reacting to the final round of counting, Tibrewal said she has accepted the people's verdict with all humility, though she also alleged that TMC had rigged the vote.
"I accept the people's verdict, my congratulations to Didi. I gave a fight, and the TMC machinery worked full time to indulge in largescale vote-rigging even (though) they were sure about Didi's (Banerjee's) victory. I exposed that on the day of polling," she claimed.
As reports of Banerjee's massive lead came in, TMC supporters hit streets across the state to celebrate
On the other side, the state offices of the BJP and the CPI (M) wore a deserted look.
"After being demolished in Nandigram, Mamata Banerjee may have survived in Bhabanipur for now, but it has never happened that a losing candidate chose to thrust herself as the Chief Minister, in violation of all democratic norms and propriety," a statement by BJP state unit later said.
The BJP also alleged that the elections were held under an overbearing state administration, with a dark shadow of fear, intimidation and gloom of the post-poll violence hanging over the electorate.
Echoing the sentiment of the state unit, senior leaders said the victory margin of Banerjee has surprised them a little.
"While contesting the by-polls, we tried our best and everyone had worked hard to ensure the Chief Minister's defeat in Bhabanipur. In reality, we are sure that her victory margin would be narrow. But the huge victory margins also came a surprise to us," IANS quoted a party leader as saying.
Another leader said that the party will draw plans for the future to further expand its presence in the state with an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and next assembly polls in 2026.
"A long term plan will be finalised to strengthen and expand the party in West Bengal. The BJP workers will continue to fight for the people of West Bengal and uproot the Banerjee government in the next polls," another senior leader said.