West Bengal polls: Suvendu Adhikari hands Mamata Banerjee defeat to end nailbiter in Nandigram; TMC demands recount
After a see-saw day that witnessed each candidate pulling into the lead on multiple occasions, the final margin between the TMC turncoat and the Bengal chief minister was a slender one: just 1,956 votes
The nailbiter in Nandigram came to an end late on Sunday night with Suvendu Adhikari defeating West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, according to the Election Commission's official website.
The margin between the TMC turncoat and BJP candidate Adhikari and the incumbent chief minister Banerjee was a slender one: just 1,956 votes.
As of the update at midnight on 3 May, Adhikari had won 1,10,764 votes or 48.49 percent of the vote share, while Banerjee secured 1,08,808 votes or 47.64 percent of the vote share. This includes 1,091 postal ballots in favour of Adhikari and 871 postal ballots for Banerjee.
Despite Banerjee's loss in the fiercely-fought Nandigram seat, the ruling Trinamool Congress swept the polls and will form the government in West Bengal for the third consecutive term. As of 12.05 am, the TMC bagged 201 of 290 seats and was leading in 12 others while the BJP won 72 seats and was leading in five others.
The vote counting process in the constituency saw several curveballs on Sunday. As trends indicated an overall win for the TMC, some reports claimed that Banerjee had won the seat on Sunday evening. What followed was a race of leads between Banerjee and Adhikari, with each regaining a slim lead over the other until the latter was declared the winner.
Striking a celebratory note for her party's landslide victory in the state, Banerjee addressed the situation in Nandigram and said that she will respect the electorate's verdict. However, she added that she will move court against the 'mischief' in Nandigram, PTI reported.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday evening, she said, "We have won so big in Bengal but I respect the verdict of the people of Nandigram. Let people of Nandigram decide. Whatever their verdict is, I accept that. It is okay," she said. "But, I also feel there was some mischief as after the news of my victory came things changed. Then, heard that the result has changed. I will later move court on this issue," Banerjee added.
“For winning a greater battle, you must sacrifice something.” @MamataOfficial
— Derek O'Brien | ডেরেক ও'ব্রায়েন (@derekobrienmp) May 2, 2021
#WATCH | Don't worry for Nandigram, for struggle you have to sacrifice something. I struggled for Nandigram because I fought a movement. It's ok. Let the Nandigram people give whatever verdict they want, I accept that: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee pic.twitter.com/ZHvtz991Vb
— ANI (@ANI) May 2, 2021
The chief minister also stated that the mandate given by the West Bengal electorate had "saved" the country.
"I respect the verdict of people of Nandigram, but have got landslide victory in Bengal. It is the victory of the people of Bengal, the victory of democracy. Bengal has saved India today. This landslide victory came after fighting against several odds — the Centre, its machinery, its agencies. This victory has saved the humanity."
"I targeted 221 as this is 2021. We reached near that figure and I thank the people of Bengal," she added.
The TMC demanded a recount of the votes polled in the Nandigram constituency as the tables kept turning in the counting process. The party claimed that there were a number of illegalities in the vote counting process.
The TMC wrote to the CEO requesting an immediate recounting of votes, alleging "tampering and mismanagement of numbers from the EVM" and said that the counting process was stalled from time to time and was not reported by the poll panel.
The party in its letter to the CEO also alleged that valid votes in favour of Banerjee were rejected while invalid votes for the BJP were counted. The TMC also described the refusal of the Returning Officer to conduct recounting of the votes as "bad in law and coloured".
"We are looking into the matter. A decision will be taken soon," an official said.
Meanwhile, Adhikari took to Twitter to thank the people for voting in his favour and choosing him as their representative.
"My sincere thanks to the great People of Nandigram for their love, trust, blessings, and support, and for choosing me as their representative and the MLA from #Nandigram," Adhikari tweeted.
My sincere thanks to the great People of Nandigram for their love, trust, blessings, and support, and for choosing me as their representative and the MLA from #Nandigram. It is my never-ending commitment to be of service to them and working for their welfare. I am truly grateful! pic.twitter.com/oQyeYswDa8
— Suvendu Adhikari • শুভেন্দু অধিকারী (@SuvenduWB) May 2, 2021
Later on Sunday night, Adhikari tweeted that TMC "goons" had "attempted to attack" his vehicle in Haldia.
"Despicable attempt to create an atmosphere of vengeance and violence in West Bengal! This evening in Haldia goons from the TMC targeted my car and attempted to attack my vehicle. If public representatives face such attacks, imagine the fate & plight of the Common Man!" he said.
West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankar also flagged "reports of violence and arson" in the state, as election results came in.
Shared my concern and anguish @MamataOfficial at reports of violence and arson in the state.
Assured by CM that concerned @HomeBengal will be directed to take all steps to maintain peace and tranquillity.
Appeal all to observe calm and peace and follow covid protocols.
— Governor West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar (@jdhankhar1) May 2, 2021
CPM's Minakshi Mukherjee finished in a distant third position polling just 6,267 votes, the EC website said.
With inputs from PTI
Assembly Elections Results 2021: All you need to know about counting date, time, total seats and majority mark
According to the Election Commission website, trends will be available on the official results page results.eci.gov.in soon after the counting starts at 8 am
West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry Election Result 2021 Live Updates: As per the 10.30 pm update on EC's website, Mamata has secured 1,03,571 votes while BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari has bagged 1,02,751 votes
At least 292 observers have been appointed and 256 companies of central forces deployed at 108 counting centres spread across 23 districts of the state