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Trinamool Congress sweeps panchayat elections at all levels in West Bengal

Till 8 pm, the ruling party had won 19,394 (68%) of the 28,456 gram panchayat seats, the results for which were declared. It also bagged 1,842 (88.34%) of the 2,085 panchayat samiti seats and 62 of the 63 zilla parishad seats declared till then.

india Updated: May 17, 2018 22:04 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
West Bengal panchayat election 2018 results,WB panchayat poll results,Trinamool Congress
Trinamool Congress supporters celebrate with a poster of party chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to celebrate their win in panchayat elections, in North 24 Parganas, on May17.(PTI Photo)

Trinamool Congress delivered a thumping victory in the violence-ridden rural polls, pushing BJP to a distant second position and virtually reducing the Left and the Congress to irrelevance in all three tiers of the panchayat structure.

The rural polls are significant since it is the last pan-Bengal exercise before the Lok Sabha elections and would indicate the support base for the different parties.

While BJP aims to win at least 22 of the Lok Sabha seats in the state, Trinamool supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is trying to help form an anti-BJP front of regional parties for the Parliament elections, looks toward an opposition-mukt state at every level.

Till 8 pm, the ruling party had won 19,394 (68%) of the 28,456 gram panchayat seats, the results for which were declared. It also bagged 1,842 (88.34%) of the 2,085 panchayat samiti seats and 62 of the 63 zilla parishad seats declared till then.

BJP managed to win 5,050 (17.7%) of the gram panchayat and 166 (7.9%) of the panchayat samiti seats. Left won 1,480 seats (5.2%) and 32 seats (1.5%) and the gram panchayat and panchayat samiti tiers. Congress managed just 918 (3.2%) and 14 (0.6%) at the two levels.

However, despite the BJP’s overall distant second position, it made a mark in the former Maoist belts in the districts of Jhargram, Purulia, West Midnapore and Bankura — a region where Mamata was fond of highlighting the government’s welfare projects.

“The BJP, CPI(M) and Maoists contested together as one. Despite that we have won 90% seats. There was sporadic violence that we never wanted. But out of the 13 people who died, 10 were Trinamool supporters. Not a single BJP worker was killed,” Mamata said.

“BJP has done better in some of the districts that border Bangladesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. They brought in troublemakers from Bangladesh and big money from Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam,” she alleged.

BJP’s Bengal unit chief, said they were advancing steadily. “In some of the districts we have done well. We will do better in the Lok Sabha polls.”

State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury met governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and pleaded for imposition of President’s Rule according to Article 356 of the Constitution, or central intervention to protect from “internal disturbance” according to Article 355.

For the ruling party, the show was far more impressive than what it achieved in 2013, when the first rural polls were held after Trinamool Congress swept out the 34-year-old Left Front government in May 2011.

In the 2013 elections, Trinamool had won 25,175 (51.61%) of the gram panchayat seats, 5,306 (57.47%) of the panchayat samiti seats and 531 (64.44%) of the zilla parishad seats.

Both the Left and the Congress suffered the most. After the 2013 elections, the Left came to control two zilla parishads Jalpaiguri and North Dinajpur, while the Congress got hold of Murshidabad. Trinamool won 13 of the 17 zilla parishads.

Independents (mostly disgruntled Trinamool elements) got seats at the gram panchayat and panchayat samiti level that were more than both the Left and the Congress.

This year, the ruling party seemed set to control all 20 zilla parishads.

In Tarakeswar of Hooghly district and Majdia of Nadia district, ruling party supporters allegedly stormed counting centres. In several districts, clashes erupted between the supporters of Congress and BJP.

Elections were held in 20 districts. Of the 58,692 seats up for grabs, in as many as 20,076 (34.3%) opposition candidates could not file nominations, something that opposition parties attributed to violence by ruling party supporters.

The Supreme Court has directed the SEC not to announce the results in those seats without its consent.

First Published: May 17, 2018 22:04 IST