At 7.54pm, Adhikari tweeted from his official handle that he had won by a margin of 1,736 votes after the 17th and final round of counting. The TMC agent immediately demanded a recount, which the returning officer turned down. This prompted a team of senior Trinamool functionaries — Derek O’Brien, Firhad Hakim and Kalyan Banerjee — to meet chief electoral officer Aariz Aftab, demanding a recount.
My sincere thanks to the great People of Nandigram for their love, trust, blessings, and support, and for choosing… https://t.co/dDsQCLbqwu
— Suvendu Adhikari • শুভেন্দু অধিকারী (@SuvenduWB) 1619965471000
EC sources later said there was no scope of even the poll panel questioning the result of the returning officer under the Representation of People’s Act, 1951. The only way out was to file an election petition in the high court, they said. The EC’s website, updated around 11pm, declared Adhikari the winner by a margin of 1,956 votes.
Mamata had earlier said she would “accept the verdict of people in Nandigram”, but also demanded a “review”, alleging “irregularities”. She also indicated she was mulling legal action.
Speaking to the media before the results were declared, Mamata said, “I had raised the issue of Nandigram, about how votes were being looted. The entire state gave one mandate, can one constituency give another mandate? Is it possible? It is not.”
The CM claimed “the servers were stopped” for around three hours. “They announce the winning (candidate) and after that they are saying something (else). This is some looting going on. Some cheating is also going on. We will seek a review. We will file a court case.”
Mamata, however, said she didn’t mind losing Nandigram as “Bengal won the match” and that “sacrifices have to be made in struggles”. Reminding everyone that she once stood up for Nandigram, the TMC chief said, “I had fought a movement here. But all is forgotten now. I will accept whatever verdict is given by the people of Nandigram…. In this match, we won 221 (seats); the BJP has lost face.”
According to the results posted by Adhikari on his Twitter handle, it appeared that Nandigram’s fate was decided in the last round, when he took a 2,556-vote lead, reversing a narrow edge Mamata had held till the end of the 16th round of counting. Adhikari also thanked the people of Nandigram. “It’s my never-ending commitment to be of service to them and work for their welfare. I am truly grateful,” he said.
Ironically, the last round of counting involved votes polled at Sonachura, in Nandigram-1 Block, believed to be a Trinamool stronghold and the epicentre of the anti-land acquisition movement in 2007. Sonachura has a majority Hindu population.
Before the last round, it had appeared that Mamata would buck the initial trends to pull through in a cliffhanger of a contest. While it was Nandigram-1 Block that took her closer to a win, it also sealed her fate. In early morning trends, Mamata had trailed for the most part. It wasn’t before round 5 that she started to narrow down the lead to 3,110. As counting of votes polled in Nandigram-1 gained momentum, Mamata emerged as the clear leader.
Nandigram electing Adhikari over Mamata could have political repercussions in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, where two elected Lok Sabha MPs in East Midnapore from the Adhikari family might seek re-election. They are Adhikari’s younger brother Dibyendu, the Tamluk MP; and father Sisir, the Contai MP.
Mamata hadn’t lost an assembly election ever since she contested from Bhowanipore in 2011. Since her 1984 electoral debut, when she unseated CPM heavyweight Somnath Chatterjee in the Lok Sabha polls, she had lost an election only once — in 1989. Barring Prafulla Chandra Sen and Ajoy Mukherjee (Arambag) and Jyoti Basu (Satgachia), Kolkata has always elected Bengal’s CMs.