TMC leads as counting of the votes for West Bengal Panchayat elections continues

TMC is winning a landslide victory as the counting of the votes for West Bengal Panchayat elections continues for nearly 24 hours.

TMC leads as counting of the votes for West Bengal Panchayat elections continues

Beating all speculations to dust, West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has managed to maintain a significant lead in the three-tier panchayat elections. The counting of the votes for West Bengal Panchayat elections started on Tuesday, July 11th and it’s continuing beyond midnight.

A total of 63,229 gram panchayat seats (village-level primary panchayat level), 9,730 panchayat samiti seats (secondary panchayats at block level) in all 22 districts and 928 zilla parishad seats (district level higher panchayat seats) in 20 districts went to poll on Saturday, July 8th. 

The TMC has already won 41,071 gram panchayat seats, 4,938 panchayat samiti seats and 343 zilla parishad seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been the runner-up in the elections so far, has won 8,866 gram panchayat seats, 511 panchayat samiti seats and 14 zilla parishad seat. There is a tie on 744 gram panchayat seats.

The alliance of the Left Front led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)], the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Indian Secular Front (ISF) is trailing behind the BJP, although many left supporters are claiming on the social media that the alliance is trailing the TMC and alleged that the poll officials are manipulating results in connivance with the ruling party’s leadership.

The CPI(M) has won 2,869 gram panchayat seats, 125 panchayat samiti seats and one zilla parishad seat. The INC has won 2,381 gram panchayat seats, 105 panchayat samiti seats and two zilla parishad seats. Others, including the independent candidates, the ISF and other parties, have won 2,173 seats in gram panchayats, 46 in panchayat samitis and one zilla parishad seat.

As the voting took place using traditional ballot papers, hence, manual counting is taking longer than usual. It’s alleged that there have been instances of manipulation during the counting of ballots, including some instances of ballot snatching by miscreants and at one place, a TMC candidate reportedly ate ballot papers to prevent his loss.

On the day of the polling, the BJP, the Left Front and the INC had alleged that the TMC had unleashed “terror” and used “violence” with sheer impunity to rig the elections. The TMC has denied the allegations and claimed that violence took place in a handful of villages and most of those killed — 13 among 18 victims — belonged to the ruling party itself, pointing fingers at its opponents.

The BJP has raised the tempo over the alleged “state-sponsored” violence that took place during the West Bengal panchayat elections on Saturday and accused Chief Minister Mamata Bandopadhyay, the TMC’s supremo, of being “ruthless”. The BJP claimed that a total of 45 people were killed during the poll violence.

On July 8th, violence erupted during the panchayat elections, leaving 18 people dead while ballot boxes were destroyed, ballot papers were burned, and crude bombs were hurled at opponents in several locations. Repolling took place on Monday, July 10th, at 696 polling booths spread across 19 districts where voting was deemed invalid due to reports of violence and ballot box tampering.

As counting of the votes for the West Bengal panchayat elections began on Tuesday morning and the trends started indicating the TMC’s victory, the BJP’s national spokesperson Sambit Patra claimed the ruling TMC’s “dadagiri politics” [muscle-flexing] was visible even on the day of ballot counting.

Although the counting of the votes for the West Bengal panchayat elections is still going on, Bandopadhyay has posted a message on her official Facebook page, thanking the people of the villages for reposing faith in her and the TMC. She assured them of a continued stream of development in the days to come.

The TMC’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee took a jibe at BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari without naming him on Tuesday evening. Buoyed by the landslide victory of the TMC, Banerjee twisted a slogan raised by Adhikari before the panchayat elections.

Banerjee thanked the voters of West Bengal for converting “No Vote to Mamata”, a slogan coined by Adhikari, a turncoat TMC leader who joined the BJP in late 2020, into “Now vote for Mamata”. He also bashed the CPI(M) and the INC along with the BJP amid the counting of the votes for the West Bengal panchayat elections.

“The dejection of the combined opposition of BJP, CPIM & INC pales in comparison to the sadness that must be felt by friends from mainstream media (sic)”, Banerjee tweeted. “Even a malicious campaign with baseless propaganda to malign the AITC State Govt in WB couldn’t sway the voters! (sic)”, Banerjee added.

Abhishek Banerjee’s tweet on the outcome of the panchayat elections

Throughout the canvassing phase, Banerjee was targeted by the BJP and the Left Front-INC-ISF alliance for his alleged role in the coal smuggling and other scams that have rocked the ruling party’s boat. Both Banerjee and the TMC have denied having any role in the scams.

Apart from the BJP, several CPI(M) workers have also alleged that the counting process is tampered with by the state’s election authorities to provide a free pass to the TMC. According to the Left Front’s supporters, they have got nearly 16% votes in the state, and along with the INC, the share may rise to nearly 20%. They are confident in forming boards in several hundred villages and many panchayat samitis. 

There are 3,342 gram panchayats and 341 panchayat samitis in West Bengal, along with 22 zilla parishads. After the counting of the votes for West Bengal Panchayat elections is over the exact position of each party in the primary government space would be clearer.

Ritika passionately reports on current affairs, conflicts and politics. Ritika pursued BA in Mass Communication from St Xavier’s University, Kolkata. She loves watching films or reading when she isn't chasing the news.

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