Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress is set to take control of four out of the seven civic bodies that went to polls on May 14 in West Bengal. The Trinamool won a majority of wards in the Domkal, Mirik, Pujali and Raiganj civic bodies while BJP ally Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) will retain control of the Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong municipalities.
The Trinamool Congress victory in Mirik, located in the hills, is significant as the party has never won there. While the Domkal, Pujali and Raiganj bodies are located in the plains, the rest are in the hills.
“Special thanks to Mirik for reposing faith in us. We will work sincerely for you. After so many decades we begin a new era in the hills. The hills are smiling,” said Banerjee in multiple tweets.
In Pujali, Trinamool has won 12 wards, followed by BJP in 2 wards and Congress in 1 ward. Bengal’s ruling party also got a majority in Raiganj winning 24 out of 27 wards, in Domkal winning 20 out of 21 wards and in Mirik getting 6 out of 9 wards.
The GJM registered comprehensive victories in Darjeeling winning 31 out of 32 wards, 18 out of 22 wards in Kalimpong and 17 out of 20 wards in Kurseong. The GJM, that holds sway in Darjeeling and neighbouring districts, has been demanding a separate Gorkhaland state for several years. Darjeeling is represented by BJP leader SS Ahluwalia in Lok Sabha, one of the party’s two MPs in the state.
The victories in the civic bodies come nearly a year after the Trinamool Congress returned to power in the state winning 211 out of 294 seats. Even though the Congress and the CPM had struck up a seat-sharing arrangement for the civic polls, both parties have not been able to make a dent. In Domkal in Murshidabad district, the stronghold of state Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the Congress-Left Front combine could win just 1 ward against Trinamool that swept the municipality. The elected member quickly switched to the ruling party after his win was confirmed. The BJP, which has been trying to position itself as the main opposition to Trinamool, won 3 wards – 2 in Pujali and 1 in Raiganj.
The polls were marred by unprecedented violence in which many political workers, across parties, were injured.