West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) won all three bye-elections to the State Assembly, bagging two of the seats for the first time since the party’s inception in 1998. And in the bypoll to Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retained the constituency.The TMC captured Kaliaganj in north Bengal for the first time as the party’s Tapan Deb Singha defeated the BJP’s Kamal Chandra Sarkar by a margin of 2,414 votes. In the Lok Sabha election earlier this year, Union Minister and BJP MP Debasree Chaudhuri had secured a lead of more than 56,000 votes in the Kaliaganj Assembly segment.In Kharagpur Sadar in the State’s south, where the TMC scored a maiden win, the party defeated the BJP by a margin of more than 20,000 votes. In the Lok Sabha poll, BJP State president and MP Dilip Ghosh had led by more than 45,000 votes against his TMC rival in this Assembly segment. BJP senior leader Mukul Roy said he could not comment on the setbacks in the two seats “without analysing the results”.Neither the Congress nor the CPI(M) saw much of a change in their fortunes, despite an alliance, in the three seats.In Karimpur, the BJP’s Jay Prakash Majumdar lost by more than 23,000 votes to the TMC candidate. This was the only seat, of the three, where the CPI(M) had fielded its candidate and secured a little more than a 9% share. The Congress bagged about 15% of the votes in Kharagpur Sadar, a former stronghold. The party, however, improved its overall percentage marginally compared to the Lok Sabha polls.Differences on NRCThe BJP’s setbacks brought to the fore differences of opinion within the party about the impact of plans to implement the National Register of Citizens (NRC) countrywide. While the losing candidate in Kaliaganj, Mr. Sarkar, cited apprehensions related to the NRC as being responsible for the debacle, State president Mr. Ghosh refuted the argument and instead blamed the “selection of candidates”.“We have lost despite having a massive lead in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls; we lost as there has been serious confusion over implementation of NRC in Bengal,” Mr. Sarkar asserted. “People did not accept this narrative over NRC and we too failed to reach out to the masses on this issue. We need instrospection,” he added. Mr. Ghosh said the NRC was in no way connected to Thursday’s results.“Why should NRC be an issue? In 2019 [parliamentary] polls too, the NRC issue was there but we had won. So it would not be right to blame NRC for our defeat. Maybe there was anger over selection of candidates,” he said. Mr. Ghosh added that bypoll results would have “no bearing on the growth of BJP in Bengal”.“Actually during bypolls it is a general trend that those who are in the government win it,” he added.In Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh, the BJP’s Chandra Pant defeated the Congress’s Anju Lunthi by a margin of more than 3,000 votes. Mr. Pant got over 51% votes, while Congress polled more than 45%.