ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Jangipur: Too Early to Read the Tea Leaves

The drastic fall in Congress votes in Jangipur parliamentary seat - vacated by Pranab Mukherjee on becoming president and contested by his son Abhijit Mukherjee - cannot be a bellwether for the larger political dynamics of West Bengal. Local factors played a role and it is too early to argue either that it indicates a communalisation of Bengal's polity or that the Congress has suffered from its break with the Trinamool Congress.

The recent parliamentary by-election in Bengal has provoked a great deal of comment in the media. The flurry of front-paged commentary has been occasioned by the fact that the constituency vacated by the current occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan and subsequently contested by his son – a member of the West Bengal legislative assembly before being electorally elevated to Parliament – saw a massive diminution of the Congress’ support. The Jangipur constituency in Murshidabad district, won by President Pranab Mukherjee with a margin of over 1,20,000 votes in 2009, was retained by his son Abhijit Mukherjee by around 2,500 votes. The media have their explanations, but most of them range from the myopic to the over-elaborate.

To begin with, as most media commentators and analysts have acknowledged, the results of a lone by-election – as opposed to say multiple and simultaneous by-elections in a single state – are not psephologically significant. But even as commentators and analysts seem to have recognised that the results of a lone by-election cannot be extrapolated into the analysis or prognosis of larger electoral trends – whether to panchayats, assemblies or Parliament – many of them have gone ahead and done precisely that.

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