Big win in by-poll for Mamata's party after chit fund scam

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Big win in by-poll for Mamata's party after chit fund scam
Kolkata:  Mamata Banerjee today sounded distinctly relieved at retaining the Howrah Lok Sabha seat, by-elections to which were held on June 2. Her candidate Prasun Banerjee defeated the  CPM's Sridip Bhattacherjee.

Ms Banerjee would have liked the margin of win to be bigger. At 27,000 votes it was about 10,000 votes less than the margin of win in 2009. It is also one-sixth of the winning margin of 2011 which stood at a a whopping 1.84 lakh.

The Bengal Chief Minister has alleged that the Congress "hobnobbed" with the CPM to try and defeat the Trinamool candidate. In 2009, the Congress was a Trinamool partner and had fielded no candidate. This time, there was a Congress candidate in the fray too.

Ms Banerjee, who skipped a meeting of Chief Ministers in Delhi today, expressed gratitude to voters soon after the win and said, "We fought alone against all parties. It is a message: ekla cholo re."

This was the first major election after the massive Saradha chit fund scandal, which left lakhs of small investors bereft of their savings and exposed Trinamool links. There have been angry protests in West Bengal after the chit fund went bust and the by-election was being seen as a litmus test of whether Ms Banerjee's popularity had taken a beating. The Chief Minister was compelled to reiterate today,  "We have nothing to do with Saradha, it happened under Left rule. Saradha was formed in 1995, the TMC wasn't even born then. The TMC was formed in 1998."

Ms Banerjee faces a crucial test next month when the panchayat elections will be held.

Her relief at winning today was also evident in several quotable quotes that she served. "As they say 'jo jeeta wahi sikander'... the Left will always be left out, they will never return to Bengal," said the Chief Minister.

She also said, "Silence is golden, speech is silver; so I do not talk much."

By-elections were held to the Howrah seat after the death of sitting Trinamool Member of Parliament Ambika Banerjee.



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