Kolkata: Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress (TMC) have won the West Bengal civic polls, seen as the semi-final before next year's state elections. She's now asking for the state elections to be brought forward.
Kolkata may be the sweetest part of Banerjee's victory- she has swept the elections for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, dislodging the CPI (M). The TMC won 95 of the Corporation's 141 seats - a whopping gain of 53. In the state's 81 municipalities, the TMC is currently leading in 33.
After arriving in Kolkata from Delhi, Banerjee told reporters, "It is a victory of the ma-mati-manush (mother, land and the people). They have given a verdict in favour of political change in the state. I salute the people." She said a victory rally will be held on July 21.
|Battle for Bengal (Leads in all 81 seats)|
|Left Front||18 (-36)|
|Battle for Kolkata (Results in 141 seats)|
The TMC says that with the Left losing considerable ground, the state elections should be held sooner than scheduled (in 2011). (Watch: Trinamool for early Assembly polls)
The Left government has lost the mandate to rule, said TMC leader Saugata Ray. "The Left front is already a defeated party. People have opted for the leadership of Mamata Banerjee. If they (Left) have any sense of self-respect, they should resign and pave the way for an election," he said. (Watch: We accept people's verdict, says Left)
That decision is upto the state's Left government and unsurprisingly, it disagrees with the TMC's view. Nilotpal Basu of the CPI (M) told NDTV that early elections are not needed. "What we have seen till now is the kind of setback we suffered in the Lok Sabha elections of 2005 has not been reversed but has been arrested...we have been doing fairly well in the districts. We have not done that badly...we are in the process of recovering. It is premature but I think people have started realizing threat posed in resurgence of political parties like TMC...and their policies of anarchy and violence."
Banerjee's performance also gives her room to exert even more power in her relationship with the Congress, her ally at the Centre. In West Bengal, however, they are rivals. The Congress fought the civic elections without any understanding with the TMC, a decision that has not paid off, and one that Team Banerjee underscored after its big gains today. Ray said, "The Congress has had to eat humble pie...it is for them to do the introspection."
Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee said, "I will like to congratulate Mamata for her excellent performance both in Calcutta and also in the districts. I accept the failure of the Congress to come up to the expectations we had and I accept the verdict of the people with all humility...till the final results come, it will be difficult to say what has been the net loss or net gain, but we have done badly... there is no doubt in that."(Watch: Pranab Mukherjee congratulates Mamata)
Today's verdict may convince Banerjee that she can now fight next year's state elections on her own. If she does show an interest in an alliance with the Congress, she has the power now to call the shots more loudly than ever before.
MAMATA'S BIG MOVES FORWARD
The Trinamool Congress has not only dislodged the CPI(M) from power in the KMC, in the adjoining Salt Lake (Bidhannagar) municipality the erosion of the Left's support base was more pronounced with Banerjee's party bagging 16 of the total 25 wards. Left Front got a poor nine.
In the 2005 election when the municipality had 23 wards, the Left Front had won in 18 and Trinamool in five.
The CPI(M) was almost decimated in the red belts of the North 24-Paraganas district, where there are 21 municipalities, and in Hooghly district where there are 12.
In North 24-Paraganas district, results of 16 municipalities have been declared of which Trinamool captured 12. Left Front secured only three and Congress one.
In Hooghly district, Trinamool routed the Left Front in 11 of the 12 municipalities including the Chandannagore Municipal Corporation.