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HindustanTimes Wed,23 Apr 2014

TMC decimates Left in West Bengal, jolts Congress

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, November 26, 2013
First Published: 10:14 IST(26/11/2013) | Last Updated: 12:48 IST(26/11/2013)

The results of the latest round of civic polls held in the state last week revealed on Monday that the ruling Trinamool Congress juggernaut continues to roll in Bengal.

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The party swept to power in four of the five civic bodies that went to the polls. It was the last round of elections in the state before the entire nation votes to form the next Lok Sabha in 2014.

The party also won the byelections in 24 of the 29 seats across 23 municipalities that went to the polls with the five civic bodies.

However, the Trinamool’s ‘green wave’ stumbled in Berhampore — the home turf of minister of state for railways and Congress MP Adhir Chowdhury — though it managed to bag 29% of the votes, up from just 2.8% in the 2008 polls.

The Trinamool also won the bypolls in ward numbers 1 and 24 of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and ward number 13 of Bidhannagar municipality, apart from those in Rajarhat-Gopalpur, Madhyamg ram, Ashoknagar (all three in North 24-Parganas district), Asansol (Bardhaman district), Purulia and some parts of north Bengal.

The ruling party secured emphatic wins in Howrah Municipal Corporation and the municipalities of Krishnanagar, Midnapore and Jhargram towns. Trinamool now controls 118 of the 137 civic bodies in Bengal. The Left Front remains in power in 10 and the Congress in nine municipalities.

“The Trinamool has wrested Jhargram from the Left Front after years. But our main concern was Berhampore. In Berhampore, the district headquarters of Murshidabad, we could win only two seats, but our vote percentage has increased ten times. We hope Murshidabad will fully support us in the near future,” Mukul Roy, all India general secretary of the Trinamool, said.

In Howrah, which recorded most incidents of violence on Friday, the polling day, Trinamool won in 41 of the 50 seats.

The Congress came a distant second with just four seats. The CPI(M) and the BJP bagged two seats each. One seat is awaiting a repoll.

In a big surprise for poll-watchers, outgoing mayor Mamata Jaiswal of the CPI( M) was trounced by Geeta Rai, the BJP candidate in Howrah.

The Trinamool won 22 of the 24 seats in Krishnanagar. Both the CPI(M) and the Congress drew a blank there. Two seats were won by Independents.

Sources said that these two were, however, set to close ranks with the Trinamool.

Though the Congress did hold on to Berhampore town, its bastion, the board will have the presence of an opposition for the first time in 15 years: The Congress won 26 of the 28 seats there while the Trinamool bagged two. “The two seats that the Trinamool won were actually the result of personal charisma.

The seats were with the Congress for years. There is also the fact that I was not able to campaign in the two wards because of time constraint resulting from the false cases slapped on me,” Adhir Chowdhury, Congress MP, told HT.

In Midnapore, the Trinamool bagged 13 of the 25 seats, while the Congress won six and the CPI(M) five. In Jhargram, a municipality that was with the Left Front for 30 years, the opposition was virtually wiped out.

The Trinamool won 16 of the 17 seats that went to the polls and the Left one. Polling was not held for one seat. A grim-faced Suryakanta Mishra, leader of the opposition in the state assembly and CPI(M) politburo member, squarely blamed “terror” to explain his party’s continuing dismal performance.

“Exactly similar incidents of violence were witnessed during the panchayat and other polls. We saw what happened in Howrah on the day of polling and at Halisahar.”

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