Trinamool looks to sweep Bengal Panchayat polls, BJP in second spot

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Kolkata, May 17 (IANS) The ruling Trinamool Congress looks set for a resounding victory in rural Bengal after nearly eight hours of counting of votes in the three-tier state Panchayat elections, with control over 80 per cent of the Gram Panchayat seats.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has emerged a distant second in almost all the districts.

According to the latest trend, Trinamool won in 20 out of 825 Zilla Parishad seats and was comfortably leading in another 22, while the opposition parties drew a blank.

The state ruling party also came out victorious in at least 160 out of 6,125 Panchayat Samiti seats and were leading in another 173 constituencies, the latest poll result data released by the State Election Commission (SEC) said.

The BJP and the left managed to bag one Panchayat Samiti seats each.

The BJP managed to move ahead or win a section of Panchayat seats, especially in Murshidabad and Jhargram districts, while the Left and Congress were pushed to margins.

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The Trinamool Congress leadership, however, refused to celebrate as a lot of counting still remained.

“It is a massive victory for Trinamool. The opposition thought giving outside support to Independent candidates would reap benefits for them. It has been proved wrong as all of them have been wiped clean. People voted for Trinamool Congress and its leader Mamata Banerjee,” West Bengal Food and Supplies Minister Jyotipriyo Mullick said.

Sporadic incidents of violence over the election results were reported from certain districts like Nadia where a group of miscreants allegedly ran away with ballot boxes. The counting of votes was halted for almost three hours in Nadia’s Majhdia after allegations of tampering with the ballot papers were received.

“There are some reports of unrest in the districts but the concerned administration has already taken action. There are no reports of major violence from anywhere,” SEC Secretary Nilanjan Shandilya told IANS.

In Birbhum, BJP and Trinamool Congress activists clashed with each other outside a counting station. The police had to resort to baton charge to disperse the mob.

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In West Bengal’s Bhangar, which has been on the boil over the construction of a power grid sub-station by the state government over the last one year, the Independent candidates backed by Jomi-Jibika-Bastutantra O Poribesh Rokkha Committee (committee for protecting life, livelihood, ecology and environment) won five out of eight Gram Panchayat seats, wherever voting took place.

The Panchayat Samiti was, however, won by ruling party strongman Arabul Islam who was arrested a day before the election for his alleged involvement in the murder of a local youth.

The polling for Bengal Panchayat polls took place on Monday amid reports of widespread violence and clashes between rival political groups that led to repolling in 573 booths in 19 of the 20 districts on Wednesday.

According to the state administration, 12 people lost their lives on the polling day among which death of six people were confirmed to be due to poll violence.

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However, opposition political parties and a section of the media claimed the death toll on the polling day had gone up to 21, while five more people died the next day.

Initially, voting for the rural bodies was to be held on May 1, 3 and 5, but as the nomination process started in April, it was rescheduled to May 14 by the SEC following a Calcutta High Court order to extend the nomination deadline and announce a fresh polling date.

Statistics reveal that of the total 58,692 seats in the three tiers of the rural local bodies, 20,076 seats, or 34.2 per cent, have been decided uncontested, with the Trinamool bagging a whopping proportion of these seats.

These include 16,814 of the total 48,650 Gram Panchayats seats, 3,059 of the 9,217 Panchayat Samiti seats and 203 of the 825 Zila Parishad seats.

The Supreme Court has now asked the SEC not to issue winning certificates in these seats.

–IANS

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