If the results of the bypoll to the Dhupguri Assembly constituency in West Bengal's Jalpaiguri district are an indication, it is quite clear that the bipolar equation between the voters and their choice to elect either the Trinamool Congress nominee or the BJP candidate that started during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls will continue till the general elections scheduled next year.
The bypoll results also showed that the voters are still not considering the Congress-Left Front alliance as an alternative, as the Congress-backed CPI(M) candidate, Ishwar Chandra Roy, secured just 13,758 votes, which is just 6.52 per cent of the total votes polled.
In the 2021 Assembly elections, Congress-backed CPI(M) nominee Pradip Kumar Roy had secured 5.73 per cent of the total votes in Dhupguri.
The winner this time, Trinamool's Nirmal Chandra Roy, witnessed a 2.53 positive vote swing from that of defeated party candidate Mitali Roy in 2021.
On the other hand, the BJP candidate for the bypoll, Tapasi Roy, witnessed a 1.42 per cent negative swing from that of the winning party candidate late Bishnu Pada Roy in 2021.
Political observers feel that the bypoll results indicate a number of political factors.
In the bypoll to the Sagradighi Assembly constituency in Murshidabad district, considered a Trinamool stronghold, held earlier this year, CPI(M)-backed Congress candidate Bayron Biswas had won by a comfortable margin. After Biswas' victory, there was a belief that the myth that only the BJP can defeat the Trinamool has finally been broken.
But the Dhupguri bypoll results have once again proved the continuing bipolar current in Bengal politics, where the choice is between the Trinamool and the BJP.
“The Left-Congress alliance was not a factor, neither in 2021 nor in 2023. And in all probability, it will not be a factor in 2024 as well,” said a city-based political observer.
Dhupguri was a traditional CPI(M) bastion from 1977 to 2011. Even in 2011, during the massive wave of Trinamool that ended the 34-year Left Front rule, CPI(M) candidate Mamata Roy got elected by a margin of 4,200 votes.
The power equation in Dhupguri changed in 2016, when Trinamool's Mitali Roy emerged as the victor. The equation changed again in 2021 when the BJP candidate won. In the 2023 bypoll, Dhupguri has again witnessed a change in equation.