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TMC to leverage SC verdict in rural polls in Lok Sabha campaign

The TMC won 96.2% of the 825 seats at the zilla parishad level, 87.6% seats of the panchayat samiti and 78.4% of the gram panchayat level.

cities Updated: Aug 24, 2018 18:15 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Supreme Court,Bengal panchayat polls,TMC
TMC leaders said the SC verdict was a rap for the BJP and would boost the ruling party’s chances in the next elections.(Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

The Supreme Court’s verdict on Friday rejecting the pleas of the BJP and the CPI (M) seeking cancellation of elections to over 20,000 uncontested local body seats in West Bengal has boosted the ruling Trinamool Congress in the state which now plans to leverage the ruling in the 2019 general elections.

All these uncontested seats were won unopposed by Trinamool Congress candidates. Opposition parties had alleged that their candidates were prevented by TMC workers from filing nomination papers.

The TMC won 96.2% of the 825 seats at the zilla parishad level, 87.6% seats of the panchayat samiti and 78.4% of the gram panchayat level.

“We have won all the zilla parishads. It’s a victory of the people. The opposition wanted to give a bad name to the people of Bengal,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee said. She said her government had submitted it in the apex court that more seats are won uncontested in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.

Other TMC leaders said the SC verdict was a rap for the BJP and would boost the ruling party’s chances in the next elections.

“It’s a verdict not only for the Trinamool Congress, but also for all anti-BJP forces nationally before the Lok Sabha elections. It will boost the tempo of the attempts to ensure a state-wise one-to-one contest against NDA candidates. In Bengal, it will fortify our attempt for a clean sweep of the 42 Lok Sabha seats,” said state panchayat affairs and rural development minister, Subrata Mukherjee.

“Both the Prime Minister and BJP president resorted to jibes on this issue. They should apologise to the people of West Bengal now,” Mukherjee added.

“We will go to the people with this verdict to unmask the opposition and their communal politics in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The opposition wanted to send a misleading picture to the people of the country,” said TMC’s Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Shekhar Ray.

“The verdict deals a resounding blow to the conspiracy of BJP and other opposition parties,” said Partha Chatterjee, TMC secretary general.

Political observer and former Presidency College principal Amal Mukherjee said Friday’s order of the Supreme Court would greatly benefit Mamata Banerjee’s party before the elections, but he ticked off the TMC over the inability of many voters to exercise their right during the panchayat polls.

“A large section of Bengal’s citizens have been denied the fundamental right to vote,” he lamented.

The BJP’s Bengal unit tried to put up a brave face after the SC ruling.

“Political battles are fought in the election fields. We will show Trinamool our might in 2019. Wherever (panchayat) polls were held as in Purulia and Jhargram, we won 40% votes. About 75 people lost their lives in the run-up to the rural elections, and it is likely that the court did not order elections to avoid further bloodshed, BJP’s state unit president Dilip Ghosh said.

“The apex court has made it clear that the elections were not fair. Trinamool supporters have no reason to rejoice. They are standing on undemocratic grounds,” remarked Sujan Chakraborty, leader of Left parties in the Bengal Assembly.

State Congress president and Lok Sabha MP Adhir Ranjan Chowhury wondered whether the court’s decision not to order fresh elections might have been triggered by the urge to avoid more bloodshed and deaths. The Congress was not a party to the case in SC.

The panchayat polls in Bengal in April-May were highly controversial with the opposition BJP, CPI(M) and Congress accusing TMC supporters of using strong arm tactics to prevent opposition candidates from filing nominations across the state.

Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi remarked in a public meeting that the violence and intimidation amounted to murdering democracy in Bengal.

First Published: Aug 24, 2018 18:15 IST