Signs of a Left turnaround or a consolidation of the ruling Trinamool
Congress's hold - it is a big test for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata
Banerjee's party as counting of votes cast in five-phase Panchayat
Polls takes place across the state today.
The manual counting of
ballots for village councils - the third tier of India's electoral
system - began amid heavy security due to fear of political clashes
after 25 people were killed during polling. The fate of 1.69 lakh
candidates, including 90,000 women, is on the line.
which is expected by Tuesday, is significant as it was the previous
Panchayat polls of 2008 that had, for the first time, indicated that the
Left front government was in trouble.
Many seats are witnessing
triangular fights between the Trinamool, the Communist Party of
India-Marxist-led Left Front (LF) and the Congress. Both the Left and
the Congress had accused the Trinamool of using coercion and
intimidation to win the elections "unethically".
parties allege that their candidates were not even allowed to contest in
over 6,000 seats, which the Trinamool would win uncontested.
Banerjee denied these allegations, claiming that the elections were
free and fair and the violence was staged by rival parties.
polls were held in the backdrop of court battles between two
constitutional bodies -- the West Bengal government and the State
Election Commission, violence and complaints of terror, rigging and
intimidation mostly against the Trinamool.