Today onwards,rural Bengal belongs to the Trinamool Congress officially. The party surged ahead in the state panchayat polls as the results for the lowest tier of the rural bodies – Gram Panchayats (GP) began to pour in from early morning as the counting began. By late night the Trinamool took an overwhelming lead in almost 13 of the 17 districts,having established itself as a party of the rural masses,ousting the CPM from a distinction it had enjoyed for over three decades.
The Trinamool was set to post victories in over 65 per cent of a total of 3,215 GP seats,pushing the Communists out of reckoning in most of the rural belts of Bengal. While all the results,even in the Gram Panchayat level,will not be known before late tonight or early tomorrow,the Trinamool seemed to be heading towards a tally of seats that will certainly surpass the best of the past seven panchayat polls in 1988,when the Left Front had bagged about 64.62 per cent seats in the GP level.
The Trinamools performance was exceptional in several South Bengal districts like Purulia,Bankura,West and East Midnapore,Burdwan and Birbhum. It fared well in North and South 24 Parganas too,barring some upsets in isolated pockets and reflection of anti-incumbency in areas like Nandigram,Haldia,Budge Budge and Amdanga and Singur.
In Singur and Nandigram,the TMC suffered because of internal fights within the Trinamool. Among North Bengal districts,Left continued to hold sway over Jalpaiguri while Cooch Behar a stronghold of the CPM and Forward bloc swung to the Trinamool this time.
This time around,with about 20-22 per cent of GP seats in its kitty,the CPM did not look like a total washout,though. Having won roughly about 350 GPs,it was in the contest in isolated pockets and in some districts like Malda,Murshidabad,Nadia,Jalpaiguri and North Dinajpur.
In the 2008 panchayat polls,the CPM and Left partners had won over 1560 GPs. Compared with the last Assembly polls in 2011,when the Left Front had 41 per cent vote share (with 62 assembly seats),this panchayat polls may see a dip to 35 per cent of vote share.
In the 2008 panchayat polls,the Left had a vote share of 52 per cent in rural Bengal while the TMC had about 23 per cent. This is going to be reversed.
The Congress,on the other hand,won about 200-plus GPs and looked rather disoriented and shattered.
In Malda,a Congress stronghold,it was a hung result with CPM and Congress bagging 41 each of the GPs and TMC 11. In as many as 52 GP,results were a tie with no clear winner. The TMC leaders claimed that they have been able to make a dent in this Congress bastion.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee dedicated the partys victory of the Maa Mati Manush to the people in the villages and said the Triamool Congress could overcome a concerted conspiracy of the central government and various constitutional bodies of course with due respect to them,she said. The Congress,CPM and the BJP had come together to defeat the Trinamool Congress but the people of the state have voted for us.
She was happy that in Junglemahal area,the party won over 275 GP seats out of a total of about 290. Our share of seats in the GP level will likely cross 70 per cent, she said at Writers Buildings.
CPM state secretary Biman Bose said: The results of the panchayat pols are not the true reflection of the mandate of rural Bengal. The TMC had worked according to a master plan for long and worked meticulously to rig and manipulate the polls. The TMC had spread terror and violence in rural Bengal to clinch this result, said Bose.
He also accused that a section of the police administration and even the state election commission officials colluded with the TMC to help in this design.
In the panchayat hierarchy,however,it is the Zilla Parishad that gives the real leverage of power and clout to the political parties functionaries,All eyes are now,therefore,set on the Zilla Parishad seats,the counting for which has began and the results for which would be known tomorrow.
As far as the trends of the Gram Panchayat level voting pattern go,the TMC looks well set to win at least 13 Zilla Parishads. In 2008,it had only East Midnapore and South 24-Parganas under its control.