After three decades of uninterrupted power, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was swept out of office in the Siliguri municipal polls in North Bengal on Tuesday.
The Trinamool Congress-Congress alliance romped home in the Left Front’s erstwhile bastion, winning 29 of the 47 seats in the municipality.
The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool won 14 and the Congress 15. The two parties had won only five each in the last election in 2004. The victory came despite Banerjee not having even campaigned. This had led to speculation that the Trinamool was not hoping to oust the Left Front.
But the voter obviously had other ideas. The Left Front, which had won 36 seats the last time, got only 17 this time. Of these, 15 were won by the CPI(M) and one each by the Forward Bloc and Revolutionary Socialist Party.
One seat went to an Independent. Banerjee told a local channel in Kolkata, “People have delivered the magic of democracy to remove the CPI(M)-led Front which has lost the right to stay in power any longer.”
The margin of victory surprised even the victors. “We were sure of victory, but with a thinner margin,” said local Trinamool leader Gautam Deb, who was the Leader of the Opposition in the municipality.
Said CPI(M) State Secretary Biman Bose in Kolkata, “The results were completely unexpected. A lot of developmental work was done in Siliguri. But it has been proved that work alone is not enough.”
(With inputs from Kolkata)