The Congress party has emerged as the ‘biggest loser’ after the results for the West Bengal State Legislative polls were announced on Sunday. While the party had joined hands with its once arch-rival the Communist party and the Islamist Indian Secular Front (ISF), Congress failed to secure even a single seat. Interestingly, the grand old party’s political misfortune further aggravated in the constituencies where Rahul Gandhi campaigned.
It must be mentioned that Rahul Gandhi had campaigned in the two constituencies of Goalpokhar and Matigira- Naxalbari on April 14, ahead of the 5th phase of the elections. While it became evident from the election results that the Congress party lost all of the 92 seats it contested, a closer analysis of the data suggests a bigger loss for Congress scion Rahul Gandhi. The Congress candidates, who contested from Goalpokar and Matigira-Naxalbari constituencies, not only lost to its rival parties but also the security deposit.
According to the Representation of People Act, 1951, a candidate will not be refunded his security deposit by the Election Commission if the candidate fails to secure 1/6th (16.67%) of the total valid votes. As such, the candidate has to forfeit his deposit to the nodal Election body. It must be pointed out that a candidate has to pay ₹10,000 as a security deposit for fighting elections for State Legislative assembly.
Congress loses deposit in the Goalpokhar constituency, where Rahul Gandhi campaigned
As per the official results published on the website of the Election Commission of India (ECI), the Congress candidate from Goalpokhar, Masood Md. Naseem Ahsen, lost out to his counterparts in the BJP and Congress. The party managed to secure a total of 19,391 votes (EVM and postal) out of 1,61,535 valid votes. Given that Ahsen secured only 12% of the total valid votes, he had to forfeit his security. It must be mentioned that Md. Ghulam Rabbani of the Trinamool Congress won the constituency with a whopping 65.4% of the votes.
Rahul Gandhi sinks Congress’ security deposit in Matigara-Naxalbari constituency
Congress suffered a major blow in the Matigara-Naxalbari constituency as well where Rahul Gandhi had addressed a ‘large gathering.’ The BJP candidate, Anandamay Barman, won the seat with a whopping 58.1% (139785) votes. While the TMC candidate came second, Congress was yet again pushed to third place. The party’s performance in the said constituency was far more dismal than it was in the Goalpokhar constituency.
Congress candidate Sankar Malakar received only 23,060 votes (EVM+postal) out of 2,40,591 valid votes. In terms of percentage, Congress received only 9.58% votes, far lower than the 16.67% threshold. As such, Malakar too had to forfeit his security deposit.
Rahul Gandhi and his ‘Coronavirus gimmick’ during election campaigning in West Bengal
On April 14, Rahul Gandhi was seen addressing large gatherings in Goalpokhar and Matigara-Naxalbari in West Bengal ahead of the 5th phase of Vidhan Sabha polls. In a tweet, the official handle of the party tweeted, “Shri Rahul Gandhi receives a tremendous reception as he arrives for his public meeting at Goalpokhar in West Bengal.” The visuals, shared by the party, clearly showed how social distancing guidelines went for a toss during his rally.
However, just 4 days later, Rahul Gandhi resorted to virtue signalling. On April 18, Congress scion Rahul Gandhi sparked controversy by attributing election rallies to the rising Coronavirus cases in the country. In a tweet, he said, “Bimaro aur mritako ki bhi itni bheed pehali baar dekhi hai (I have seen such a large crowd of infected and deceased people too for the first time).” The Congress dynast took potshots at the ruling BJP for its aggressive campaign ahead of the 6th phase of polls in West Bengal.
Rahul Gandhi was absent from the campaign trail in West Bengal during the four phases of the State Legislative polls. Although the likes of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Salman Khurshid, and Jaiveer Shergill had addressed gatherings ahead of the polls, Rahul Gandhi remained missing until the 4th phase. And as election results now suggest, his campaign further aggravated the party’s chances in the two constituencies.