Express News Service

KOLKATA: Ruling Trinamool Congress swept the West Bengal panchayat election on Wednesday winning the three-tier rural governance system by a huge margin. However, BJP, which has been registering electoral growth in the state over the past two years, emerged as the major opposition by coming runners up in the elections.

Of the 31,836 Gram Panchayat seats that were contested, the ruling party won 19,394 Gram Panchayat seats and is leading in 560 seats till 8 pm. BJP won 5,050 GP seats and is leading in another 55.

Left Front won 1,307 GP seats and is leading in another 22 seats whereas Congress won 918 GP seats and is leading in another 29 seats. Independent candidates made big gains by winning 1,614 GP seats and leading in another 33. The ruling party has won 16,814 seats uncontested.

Of the 622 Zila Parishad seats that were contested, the ruling party has won 351 Zila Parishad seats whereas the BJP, Left and Congress are leading in 9, 2 and 4 seats respectively. The ruling party has won 203 seats uncontested.

Of the 6,158 Panchayat Samiti seats that were contested, TMC has won 1,110 Panchayat Samiti seats and is leading in another 464 seats whereas BJP has won 87 seats and is leading in another 33. Left Front has won 19 seats and is leading in another 12 seats. Here too, independent candidates have made their mark by winning 12 seats and leading in another 2 seats. The ruling party has won in 3,059 seats uncontested.

As per the ongoing counting, independent candidates have secured the third slot after TMC and BJP, above major political parties CPM and Congress.

According to political analysts, the electoral success of the independent candidates point at the growing factional clashes within the ruling party, an issue that has to be tackled by TMC in the wake of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the 2021 Assembly elections in which further growth of BJP and decimation of Left and Congress is expected.

Interacting with media after the trends, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called it a ‘people’s victory’.

“This is a people’s victory and is a befeting reply to the propaganda campaign unleashed against TMC. However, the incidents of violence leading to deaths in some parts of the state was unfortunate,” she said.

On the other hand, state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said that the results show they are giving a tough fight to TMC. “Had the elections been fair, we would have performed better,” he said.

Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Choudhury called the election a ‘farce’. “The result was expected as the election was turned into a farce. We apprehend a repeat of this farce in 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” he said.

The election saw massive violence leading to deaths of at least 23 people and injuries to over a 100 people.

Opposition parties alleged the ruling party of massive rigging, claiming that the unleashing of violence exposed the ruling party’s insecurities due to growth of BJP.