Bengal civic polls: Trinamool registers massive victory

Kolkata, Oct 10 (IANS) West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress scored a landslide victory on Saturday in the civic polls, slated as the last trial of strength ahead of next year’s assembly election.

The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool won overwhelmingly in all the three municipal bodies — Bidhannagar in North 24 Parganas district, Asansol in Burdwan district and Bally in Howrah district.

While the Trinamool described its victory as historic, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) led Left Front said it was a moral defeat for the ruling party.

The Trinamool bagged 37 of the 41 wards in Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation and annihilated the opposition in the 16 wards of the erstwhile Bally municipality where an election was necessitated after the civic body was amalgamated with the Howrah Municipal Corporation.

In the Asansol Municipal Corporation, candidates from the ruling party have either won or are leading with wide margins in at least 74 of the 106 wards.

The Left Front managed 17 while the Bharatiya Janata Party bagged eight wards. The Congress emerged victorious in just three.

At Bidhannagar, in the northeastern fringes of Kolkata, the Left Front and the Congress won two wards each.

Among the heavyweights to lose from here was veteran Marxist and former state finance minister Asim Dasgupta.

“This is not a reflection of the people mandate rather an evidence of the electoral malpractices indulged in by the ruling party,” Dasgupta told media persons.

“Trinamool may have won the polls but it has been a moral defeat for them. It’s not humans, rather thousands of ghosts cast votes for the Trinamool. It’s a disgrace,” said Leader of Opposition and CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra.

The opposition had alleged violence and rampant rigging in the October 3 polls, and demanded repoll in all the wards of the three civic bodies.

There was high drama as State Election Commissioner (SEC) S.R. Upadhyay deferred the vote count slated for October 7 and then put in his papers a day before, allegedly succumbing to pressure from political parties.

The state government appointed transport secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay as the interim commissioner, who ordered repoll on October 9 in 11 booths — nine in Bidhannagar and two in Asansol.

Angry opposition parties boycotted the repoll.

A case was also filed challenging Bandopadhyay’s appointment, and the Calcutta High Court on Friday directed that all steps initiated by the SEC under the new interim commissioner would be subject to the court’s final verdict on the writ petition, but turned down a plea to give any interim stay.

Justice Dipankar Datta sought affidavits from the West Bengal government and the SEC backing their observations by November 17. Petitioner Amitava Majumdar was directed to file the affidavit in opposition by November 19. November 23 has been fixed as the next day of hearing.

Attributing the victory to the development work carried out by the Mamata Banerjee government, the Trinamool called the results “historic”.

“It’s not a mere victory, rather a historic reflection of the people from across the state about their choice. Yet again, the people have proved that the opposition which has misruled the state for 34 years, has been rejected,” Trinamool leader and state Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee said.

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