The Trinamool Congress is set to get a firm grip on the grassroots of the West Bengal polity as the party is poised to win control of 13 districts of the 17 where the panchayat polls were held.
The counting process, which started on Monday, was slow because it was conventional ballot-paper voting and there were three ballots for each voter.
The final results of all the three tiers (panchayat elections take place at three levels) are expected early on Tuesday.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee said at state headquarters: “This is a victory of democracy. I dedicate this victory to the people. The Congress, CPI(M) and BJP have an unholy nexus, but the people defeated it. The Trinamool had to fight against different forces. The Trinamool will win in 13 districts and even in Malda and North Dinajpur it will be a hung configuration, but the Trinamool will lead.” In 2008 the Left Front had control in 13 districts.
The Trinamool held sway over districts considered left bastions: Burdwan, West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia. The party also retained control of two districts — East Midnapore and South 24 Parganas. It also made major inroads in North Bengal, which is considered a Congress stronghold.
Left Front chairman Biman Bose harped on the conspiracy theory in the face of defeat. “At many counting stations the Trinamool Congress did not allow our agents to enter. Initially there were reports of our leads, but then agents were thrown out of the centres and our seats were reduced,” said Bose.
The Congress too had the same complaint. “We have alleged a reign of terror. In 20% of the seats our candidates were ready but couldn’t file nominations,” said West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Pradip Bhattacharya.