Home / Politics / Policy /  Mamata’s TMC emerges clear winner in West Bengal civic polls

Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress (TMC) party trampled detractors and dissidents to rout a divided opposition in West Bengal’s civic body elections, results of which were announced on Tuesday.

Coming a year ahead of the assembly election in West Bengal, the results are being seen as a major victory for the ruling party, which has been battling defections and allegations of corruption lately.

The party retained control of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) apart from emerging as the winning party in 70 other municipal bodies in West Bengal.

Ninety-two civic bodies, including KMC, went to polls in the state on 18 and 25 April.

There were reports of violence on both days: on 18 April, a police officer was shot at in Kolkata after polling had ended—he survived the gunshot—and on 25 April, a TMC worker was killed in a gun battle.

The TMC expanded its control over the state capital, winning in 114 KMC wards as against 95 in 2010, out of a total of 144.

The performance of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which saw a significant surge in its vote share in last year’s general elections, fell short of expectations.

Even in Kolkata, where the urban electorate was thought to be leaning towards the Hindu nationalist party, the BJP managed to secure only seven wards—up from three in 2010.

Even the emaciated Left Front won in more wards than the BJP: 15 this time compared with 32 (considering post-poll defections) in 2010.

In the general elections last year, the BJP led in at least 26 KMC wards. The party’s state secretary Rahul Sinha said BJP would have done much better had the elections not been rigged. Even so, there were marginal gains for his party, he added.

The BJP has, however, made significant inroads into chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s own Bhawanipore assembly constituency, winning in two wards of the neighbourhood.

Despite its dwindling support base, the Left Front managed to wrest control of the Siliguri and Jangipur municipal boards from the TMC and the Congress, respectively.

The Left Front has gained control of six municipal boards and the Congress, five, and there are no clear winners in 11.

Banerjee said it was TMC’s fitting reply to political parties that were spreading canards against the party’s leaders ahead of the elections. “People have voted out communal forces," she said, referring to the BJP.

She took heart from the TMC’s performance in northern districts of the state such as Malda, Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur, where opposition parties such as the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) suffered significant losses.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who is also a member of Lok Sabha, said he wasn’t complaining about his party’s performance in view of the violence and electoral malpractices that workers had to deal with.

The Congress was almost written off in people’s mind, Chowdhury said, but the fact that it has won five municipal boards shows “we are very much there".

In two of the 11 municipalities where there are no clear winners, the Congress has tied with the TMC.

Despite the violence, the TMC lost some key contests, said Left Front chairman Biman Bose. The Left Front’s win in Siliguri testifies to people’s resolve to put an end to TMC’s muscle flexing, he added.

In a television interview, state election commissioner Sushanta Upadhyay said on Tuesday that the regional poll watchdog should have direct control over the police and the administration and should enjoy the same degree of authority as the Central Election Commission.

He said he would bring to the Union government’s notice the discrepancies between the powers of the State Election Commission and the central poll watchdog.

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