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President Pranab Mukherjee's son Abhijit Mukherjee has won the Jangipur Lok Sabha bypoll in Murshidabad district but the narrow victory margin — of 2,536 votes — will give the Congress more worries than reasons for celebrations.
Pranab Mukherjee had won the seat in 2009 with a margin of 128,000 votes. As a senior West Bengal PCC leader put it, Abhijit's win "is as good as a defeat".
Had it been a triangular contest with the Trinamool Congress in the fray, the seat would have been with the CPM. Both Pranab and Abhijit will have to remain obliged to Mamata Banerjee for the gesture she had shown by not putting up a candidate even though the bypoll came after the TMC walked out of the UPA coalition.
The reasons for a drastic drop in the Congress vote share were attributed to various emerging factors like growing unpopularity of the Congress, growing disillusionment with the TMC in the state and also the play of communal factors in a constituency that is located close to the border with Bangladesh and has the largest Muslim population in the country as a district.
According to the result announced on Saturday, Abhijit got 3,32,919 votes or 39.01 per cent of the total votes polled while CPM's Mujaffar Hussain got 3,30,383 votes or 38.71 per cent. The vote share for the Congress dropped by about 15 per cent and that of the CPM by 1.5 per cent as compared to 2009.
Poll analysts said such a huge drop cannot be attributed to reforms or corruption in UPA- II alone because in as many as four assembly segments out of seven in the constituency, the CPM took lead. The assembly segments are Suti, Nabagram, Jangipur and Sagardighi, which is represented TMC's Subrata Saha, a minister in the state government.