TMC sweeps Bengal rural polls, bags over 34,000 gram panchayat seats
The CPI(M) has won 2,885 and is leading in 96 seats. The Congress won 2,498 seats and is leading in 72
The ruling Trinamool Congress on Wednesday looked poised to sweep to a massive victory in violence-scarred rural polls in Bengal as the overnight count of ballots gave it an unassailable lead in results declared till now by the State Election Commission.
The ruling TMC has won in 34,359 gram panchayat seats, besides leading in 752 seats, according to the SEC as of 8 am on Wednesday. Its nearest rival BJP has won 9,545 seats and is leading in 180 seats. In all elections are being held for 63,229 gram panchayat seats.
The CPI(M) has won 2,885 and is leading in 96 seats. The Congress won 2,498 seats and is leading in 72.
The counting though largely peaceful was marred by stray incidents including bombs being hurled in Bhangar, a spot where there had been deaths in the run-up to election, leading to firing by central forces and state police on Tuesday night on an unruly mob which resulted in injuries including on ISF supporters and policemen including an IPS officer.
The ruling TMC won 6,134 Panchayat samiti seats while leading 61 seats. BJP has won 939 and is leading in 149 seats, while CPI(M) has won 165 seats and is leading in 14 others and Congress has won in 244 seats and is leading in 7 seats. Elections were held for 9,728 Panchayat Samiti seats.
TMC has also won all 554 Zila Parishad results declared so far and is leading in 201 others. The BJP has in contrast won 19 and is leading in 7 seats.
The CPI(M) has won 2 seats and is leading in 2 more seats, while Congress has won 4 and is leading in 10. In all, there are 928 Zila Parishad seats.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who had suffered an injury during campaigning thanked people for reposing trust in her on Tuesday night.
"It's TMC all the way in rural Bengal. I want to thank the people for their love, affection and support towards the TMC. This election has proved that only TMC resides in the heart of the people of the state," Banerjee said in a social media post.
The elections are being seen by all parties as an indicator of which way the wind will blow in the 2024 parliamentary elections from this part of the country.
The violence which rocked the panchayat polls held on Saturday has claimed at least 15 lives with 11 of them from the ruling TMC. Since elections were announced last month, the number of people who died in poll-related incidents has been 33, with the ruling party suffering 60 per cent of the deaths.
Allegations of vote tampering and violence by various parties forced the SEC to order re-polling in 696 seats on Monday, which passed more or less peacefully. Intervention by the Calcutta High Court had seen the deployment of central police forces on both election and counting days.
Though Bengal has a long history of violent rural polls with 40 people killed in one single day of polling during the 2003 panchayat elections, this year’s violence which was covered extensively by the media focused national attention on it.
Governor CV Ananda Bose who had rushed to Delhi to give a report on the violence told newspersons Tuesday "Political parties should realise elections are not grounds to examine one's physical strength".
Counting of votes for the three-tier panchayat polls to nearly 74,000 seats which besides the gram panchayat seats, also includes 9,730 panchayat samiti seats and 928 zilla parishad seats, began at 8 am on Tuesday largely peacefully amid tight security, officials said.
Vote counting is on at 339 venues spread across 22 districts and is likely to carry over to Wednesday. The maximum number of counting centres is in South 24 Parganas at 28, while the minimum is in Kalimpong at four. Some northern districts are also facing inclement weather.
"Counting which began at 8 am yesterday continued overnight and will be completed today" an SEC official said Wednesday.
In Darjeeling hills, out of the 598 seats in Darjeeling and 281 in Kalimpong, the Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha (BGPM) was leading in many areas and looks likely to be the new numero uno in the Bengal hill districts.
All the counting venues are manned by armed state police personnel and central forces, with prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC being imposed outside the venue to avoid any untoward incidents. There are a total of 767 strong rooms across 22 districts.
Large crowds of supporters of various candidates gathered at various centres to ensure that counting was conducted correctly.
In various districts, TMC supporters celebrated their victory by dancing and smearing each other with green colour, the party’s chosen colour.
A total of 5.67 crore people living in the state's rural areas were eligible to decide the fate of 2.06 lakh candidates in 73,887 seats of the three-tier-panchayat system.