The Opposition Left Front was decimated in seven civic bodies, especially in industrial belts like Durgapur and Haldia, which were once considered its bastions. CPM — which is the biggest Left Front constituent — failed to open an account while its ally Forward Block managed to win only one ward in Nalhati Municipality out of the total 148 in seven civic bodies. The Congress scored zero.
With both Left Front and Congress — which contested civic polls in Durgapur Municipal Corporation and Nalhati Municipality with an understanding — failing to make a mark, political observers predicted a pattern of “bipolar politics” between TMC and BJP in the state in the future. The TMC won all seven civic bodies with a thumping majority, while BJP came second in terms of vote share and seats won.
BJP emerged second after it won four out of sixteen wards in Dhupguri Municipality and one ward each in Panskura and Buniadpur municipalities. The party also bagged 41 per cent vote share in Dhupguri Municipality in Jalpaiguri district and came second in 12 wards.
Although it did not win any seat, BJP came second in 25 wards out of 29 in Haldia Municipality and in 17 wards out of 43 wards in Durgapur Municipality Corporation. In Nalhati Municipality, BJP came second in 7 wards out of 16; in Buniadpur it came second in 13 wards out of 14 and in Panskura Municipality, it came second in seven wards, pushing the Left Front to the third position.
According to political observers, the Left Front lost ground to BJP and its electoral debacle in the Durgapur and Haldia industrial belts exposes its “complete isolation” from voters. Interestingly, the Left Front and Congress alliance candidates had won two Assembly seats in Durgapur a year ago and were ahead of TMC in 40 wards of Durgapur Municipal Corporation in terms of the 2016 Assembly election vote share.
The CPM described the civic polls as a farce and said elections were not held peacefully. “2016 Assembly elections were held with the help of central paramilitary force. This civic poll was held with the help of state police and the difference is pretty clear. In 2016, we won seats here and now the civic body has no Opposition face. The election was a farce and results are equally unacceptable,” said CPM leader and former MLA Gouranga Chatterjee.
Upbeat with its performance, BJP said that it performed well, braving alleged violence by ruling party activists.
“If the election was held peacefully and there were no violence, BJP would have got more seats in Durgapur,” said state BJP vice-president and party election observer for Durgapur Municipal Corporation, Subhas Sarkar.