The Trinamool Congress swept elections to seven municipal bodies in West Bengal on Thursday, winning 140 of 148 wards. The BJP emerged a distant second with six wards at a time it is trying to grow its base in the state.
In three civic areas — Durgapur in Burdwan district, Haldia in East Midnapore and Cooper’s Camp notified area in Nadia — Trinamool made a clean sweep. The other four civic areas where elections were held were Panskura Municipality in East Midnapore, Dhupguri in Jalpaiguri district, Buniadpur in South Dinajpur and Nalhati in Birbhum.
Four of the seats the BJP won were in Dhupguri municipality in Jalpaiguri district. One seat each from Buniadpur municipality in South Dinajpur district and in Panskura in East Midnapore completed the BJP’s tally of six wards. The Left Front won a single seat in Nalhati municipality of Birbhum, the Congress won none. One seat went to an Independent.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, “I am indebted to the people for this victory and I thank them. Those who were scrambling for the third or fourth position secured only 0.1 per cent of the votes and got no seats.”
The BJP’s Bengal chief Dilip Ghosh said: “We have emerged second in the civic polls. Now we will make preparations to become first in next year’s panchayat polls. People of the state are disappointed with other Opposition parties and have started believing that the BJP is the only alternative to TMC because our party has the potential to give TMC a run for its money.”
The CPM said the polls had not been fair. “It was not an election, rather a forcible capture of civic bodies. There is a nexus among TMC, miscreants and police and people are aware of it,” said CPM MLA Sujan Chakraborty.
Trinamool, which was never in doubt of winning, said the Opposition was decimated because it never played a constructive role. Party secretary general Partha Chatterjee said: “The Opposition… only indulged in attacking the ruling party and criticising the government. They competed among themselves.”
In Durgapur Municipal Corporation — the largest of the civic areas to go to polls — TMC won all 43 wards. State Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Aroop Biswas, who was the TMC’s election in-charge in Durgapur, linked the sweep to Banerjee’s announcement of a separate West Burdwan district and said “people have showed their full faith in her”. He alleged that the BJP attempted to disrupt the poll in Durgapur “by bringing outsiders from Bihar and Jharkhand”.
In Haldia, which was a Left bastion but where the BJP candidates have tailed Trinamool’s this time, Trinamool is reported to have increased its vote share from previous elections.