This Article is From Jul 11, 2023

Trinamool Dominates Bengal Rural Polls By Bagging Over 3,700 Seats, Maintains Strong Lead

In various districts, TMC supporters celebrated their victory by dancing and smearing each other with green gulal.

Trinamool Dominates Bengal Rural Polls By Bagging Over 3,700 Seats, Maintains Strong Lead

Supporters of the All India Trinamool Congress.


Marching ahead of its rivals, the Trinamool Congress secured victory in over 3,700 gram panchayat seats and was leading in another 3,167 seats in West Bengal, while the opposition BJP bagged 673 seats and led in 782 others out of 63,229 gram panchayat seats across the state, according to data released by the State Election Commission.

The CPI (M) has won 241 seats and is currently leading in over 627 gram panchayat (GP) seats, followed by its ally Congress, which won 107 GP seats and was leading in 241 others, it said.

The counting of votes for the three-tier panchayat polls, which included nearly 74,000 seats besides the gram panchayat seats, also included 9,730 panchayat samiti seats and 928 zilla parishad seats, began peacefully at 8 am on Tuesday amid tight security, officials said.

There are around 339 venues spread across 22 districts. 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 began at 8 am and is likely to continue for the next two days. It will take time for the ballots to be counted and the results to be compiled," an SEC official said.

In Darjeeling Hills, out of the 598 seats in Darjeeling and 281 in Kalimpong, the BGPM was leading in 21; the BJP was leading in one, and the independents were leading in four.

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 the counting was conducted correctly.

In various districts, TMC supporters celebrated their victory by dancing and smearing each other with green gulal.

As initial trends started pouring in, a war of words broke out between the TMC and the BJP, with the latter accusing the ruling party of "making last desperate attempts to loot votes by blocking opposition agents from entering counting centres." "TMC goons are making desperate attempts to steal the elections by obstructing the counting agents and candidates of the BJP and other opposition political parties from entering counting centres. They are being restricted from going towards the venue, and bombs are being hurled to intimidate counting agents, the leader of the Opposition, Suvendu Adhikari, said.

Refuting the allegations, TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said, "Sensing defeat, they are making baseless allegations." "Rejected by people and sensing humiliating defeat, this is BJP's last attempt to come up with lame excuses to make up for its own organisational failures," he said.

Violence had rocked West Bengal's rural polls on Saturday, leaving 15 people dead while ballot boxes were vandalised, ballot papers torched, and bombs thrown at rivals in several places.

Of those killed, 11 were affiliated with the TMC. The total death count in the state since the poll process began on June 8, when the dates were announced, has crossed 30.

A voter turnout of 80.71 per cent was recorded on Saturday, whereas a vote percentage of 69.85 percent was recorded till 5 pm in 696 booths across West Bengal, where re polling was held on Monday.

The decision to re-poll was taken after reviewing reports of violence and tampering with ballot boxes and ballot papers on Saturday.

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 panchayat system.

Saturday's violence was in keeping with the state's history of violent rural elections, including the 2003 panchayat polls, which gained notoriety for its cumulative death count of 76 during the poll process, with nearly 40 killed on the day of polling.

This year, with more than 30 people killed since polls were announced earlier last month, the toll remained almost equal to that of the previous panchayat elections in 2018.

However, this time, the opposition fielded candidates in more than 90 per cent of seats, unlike in the 2018 rural polls, when the ruling TMC won 34 per cent of the seats uncontested.

In the 2018 rural polls, the ruling TMC emerged victorious in 90 per cent of the panchayat seats and all 22 zilla parishads. The elections were marred by widespread violence, with the Opposition alleging they were prevented from filing nominations in several seats.