Mamata Banerjee will still be the chief minister for the third time
Despite losing from Nandigram, as per latest reports coming from the constituency, there is little doubt that Mamata Banerjee will again head the government in West Bengal
There was high drama in the counting of votes for Nandigram constituency in West Bengal, where BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari was declared to have won by defeating the chief minister Mamata Banerjee by a slender margin. Official result was still awaited at the time of writing.
News agency ANI, widely believed to be close to the BJP, had earlier in the day flashed the news that Mamata Banerjee had won by 1,200 votes. Congratulatory messages poured in from political leaders. But four hours later, Suvendu Adhikari claimed that he had actually won by 1,600 votes.
Mamata Banerjee herself conceded defeat around 6.30 pm and said she accepted the verdict with all humility. But she also added that she had information of irregularities and she would challenge the decision in court.
Earlier in the day poll strategist Prashant Kishor had told NDTV in an interview that the Election Commission had played a brazenly partisan role during the election and had made life ‘hell for us’. Seldom has the Election Commission been accused of partisan conduct on live TV and the controversy is likely to snowball.
However, there is no legal bar on the TMC (AITC) legislature party from electing Mamata Banerjee as its leader. There is little doubt that she will be elected the leader and take oath as chief minister of the state for the third time. She had taken a calculated risk by contesting from Nandigram and many poll pundits credit the decision for changing the poll chemistry in the state in favour of Trinamul Congress.
She led the campaign from the front, even after she was allegedly attacked by BJP supporters—a charge which was dismissed by the EC. Banerjee however campaigned on a wheel chair for nearly two months after being hospitalized for three days.
The Constitution expects her to get elected to the Assembly within the next six months. And with the mandate she has received, she can win from any seat she decides to contest from now.