Having won 13 zilla parishads (district councils) out of 17 in the panchayat polls,the Trinamool Congress consolidated its position before the crucial Lok Sabha elections and went one step closer to emerge as one of the single largest regional blocks in 2014. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee rewrote the rules of triangular contests in state politics having virtually wiped out both the Congress and the Communists from rural Bengal.
Both the Congress and CPM were down to just one zilla parishad in Murshidabad and Jalpaiguri,respectively,while Malda and North Dinajpur were locked in a tie with the Trinamool Congress as the deciding factor.
Both Malda,led by the Ghani Khan Chowdhury family,and North Dinajpur led by Deepa Das Munshi,were for long under the domination of Congress that controlled the zilla parishads.
In the final tally,the Trinamool Congress bagged 215 panchayat samitis (middle tier) out of the 329 contested. The TMC also won 530 zilla parishad seats (upper tier) out of 825 contested. In both the segments,the total number of seats won constituted about 65 per cent of the total seats.
In the lowest tier of gram panchayats,too,it was close to the same percentage of seats with about 400 gram panchayats held in a tie where the ruling party always have the advantage.
Happy with the results,Mamata convened a TMC parliamentary party meet at Writers Buildings this afternoon where,apart from other critical issues like the Gorkhaland agitation,the panchayat results were also discussed.
A senior TMC MP said: Didi was really happy with the results in South Bengal districts – where the TMC bagged 11 out of 12 zilla parishads. The three LWE-affected districts of West Midnapore,Bankura and Purulia gave TMC an overwhelming mandate with over 75 per cent seats won. But she cautioned against post-poll violence.
In West Bengals coalition politics,triangular contests had always given the Left an edge over the Congress and the TMC by splitting the anti-Left votes. But this polls makes a break,and henceforth,with very little of the Congress following remaining,the TMC emerges as the commanding political voice now.
In the ensuing Lok Sabha polls,it will be the Congress compulsion to seek alliance with the TMC in districts like Malda and North Dinajpur if it wanted to ensure victories for Congress candidates like Mausam Noor (MP,Malda-North),Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury (MP,Malda -South) or even Deepa Dasmunsi (MP,Raiganj).
Murshidabad,the Bengal district with maximum Muslim population and Congress leader Adhir Chowdhury at its helm, remained the only district with a clear Congress supremacy. But here too,the TMC fared better than earlier polls winning 9 GPs and two ZP seats.
In both Malda and North Dinajpur,the TMC has made deep inroads. In Malda,it has captured 6 zilla parishad seats,10 gram panchayats,and has become the deciding factor in five hung panchayat samitis. In the 2008 rural polls,the TMC had a near blank sheet in both Malda and North Dinajpur districts. Like Malda,the TMC has won 5 zilla parishad seats and also a number of gram panchayat and panchayat samiti seats.
Congress MP Mausam Noor said: The TMC has damaged our prospects.We did not expect that the result of Zilla Parishad will be hung.
Deepa Dasmunsi and Abhu Hasem Khan Chowdhury,both central ministers,alleged that the TMC has served CPM interests,having sabotaged their chances.
Krishnendu Chowdhury,minister for tourism from Malda in Mamatas Cabinet and who defected from the Congress to join TMC earlier,said: Our party will become a crucial factor in the Lok Sabha polls with this panchayat poll outcome.
Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee,who played a key role in the Trinamools victory,said: The results are significant for the Lok Sabha polls. The party has now a well spread out network of workers up to the grassroots level.
The CPM latched onto its hold in Jalpaiguri where it won 27 of the 37 ZP seats and would form the board. Its prospect in North Dinajpur is looking up with the results tied up at 13-13.