BengalFreshly Brewed

Amid high voltage political drama during Bengal panchayat polls, TMC clean sweeps

Kolkata: It’s has been an unprecedented victory for the Trinamul Congress (TMC) to retain the Bengal’s three-tier village administrative system, winning 95 per cent of zila parishads, 90 of panchayat samitis and 73 per cent of gram panchayats seats that went for the polling. The final results were declared late at night on Thursday.

TMC chief and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee dedicated this massive victory ‘to the people of Bengal and martyrs’ families’, who according to her, voted for development and nothing else really mattered to them. Though, all the opposition parties called panchayat election 2018 ‘a farce.’

Even TMC has an unprecedented victory, the election highlighted two things- BJP is strengthening its ground in Bengal as been second (distance second) in position and the number of Independent candidates winning the election is the second most prominent character.

During the panchayat election, more than a third of the seats didn’t see any contest and the Calcutta High Court had stayed announcement of those results in a directive last week. Trinamul’s victory percentage will increase if results of those seats were announced as most of those candidates belong to them only.

BJP has been able to make inroads into villages across Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Jhargram, Purulia and parts of West Midnapore and even Birbhum, which stood out for the large number of uncontested seats, where saffron party candidates won more than 20% gram panchayats that went to vote. These areas have substantial tribal population where development has not taken place the way it should have. “We have to do more work in these areas,” said Anubrata Mandal, president of Birbhum Trinamul Congress.

TMC, on the other hand, has been successfully decimated Congress in Murshidabad and taken a massive lead in Malda and North Dinajpur — all erstwhile Congress strongholds.

“The people of the state have voted for development and the result was expected,” said MLA of Rajarhat Newtown constituency Sabyasachi Dutta. Meanwhile, TMC leader Arabul Islam, who was arrested after a youth was killed in Bhangar days before the rural polls were held, has won a panchayat samiti seat from the area. His son, Hakimul Islam, also won from a panchayat samiti seat in North Gazipur area of Bhangar.

Five of the eight independent candidates, who were backed by the Jomi, Jibika, Poribesh O Bastutantra Raksha Committee (JJPOBRC) — an umbrella organisation of 16 villages that is protesting against the construction of a power plant in Bhangar — have won gram panchayat seats in Polerhat II in South 24 Parganas. They had filed their nominations via WhatsApp, claiming that armed miscreants had stopped them from filing their nomination papers.

“It is clear from the results that we are still in the fight. BJP has come second, which is no surprise for us. Had the election been free and fair, we would have performed better,” claimed Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh.

“This (the results) was meant to be, as the election had turned into a farce. We are apprehending a similar situation in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as well,” said Bengal Congress president Adhir Chowdhury.

Sporadic incidents of violence were reported as the results were declared on Thursday. A clash between TMC and BJP workers broke out in Birbhum district, after the latter won the Mallarpur gram panchayat. Police resorted to lathicharge to bring the situation under control.

Violence also broke out at Chopra in North Dinajpur district, where two persons suffered gunshot injuries.

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