Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool congress (TMC) is heading for a massive victory in the West Bengal Panchayat elections, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerging distant second in almost all the districts, data of the state Ellection Commission showed.
The Left Front (CPI-M), which ruled the state for 34 years till 2011,slipped to the third spot, while the Congress was virtually wiped out in the polls.
As per latest reports, the state's ruling party has won 21,067 Gram Panchayat (lowest tier) seats of 31,814 that were contested, while it was leading in 57 seats. The party has won 4,900 out of 6,125 contested Panchayat Samiti (middle tier) seats and was comfortably ahead in another 58.
The Trinamool Congress has also won 522 522 zilla parishad seats and is leading in 50 seats.
The BJP won 20 zilla parishad seats and is leading in three others, they said.
The saffron party bagged zilla parishad seats in Purulia (eight), Malda (six), Jhargram (three), Nadia (two) and North Dinajpur (one) districts.
The Congress has won two zilla parishad seats in Malda district and is leading in two other seats. The CPI(M) is yet to open its account in zilla parishad but is leading in one seat. Independents have won two seats, SEC sources said.
The Trinamool Congress outraced others in panchayat samiti seats too by winning 4,900 of them so far and leading in another 58 seats. The BJP won 740 seats and is leading in 12.
The CPI(M) won 108 panchayat samiti seats and is leading in two, while the Congress won 130 seats and is leading in one, SEC sources said, ad ding Independents have won 111 panchayat samiti seats.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee congratulated the party workers for the massive win and dedicated the victory to the people.
According to a senior state BJP leader, it was the first time in last 10 years that the party had been elected to the gram panchayat level in every district of the state.
The CPI(M) slipped to the third position from the second place it had occupied in the last panchayat polls in 2013. It won 1,479 gram panchayat seats and is ahead in another four, the sources said.
The Congress is at fourth position by winning 1,057 seats and leading in four - a score lower than that of independents, who won 1,827 gram panchayat seats and are leading in 18 seats.
The panchayat poll was held in 622 zilla parishad, 6,123 panchayat samiti and 31,802 gram panchayat seats in 20 West Bengal districts on May 14.
Of the total 48,650 seats in gram panchayats, 16,814 went uncontested. There was also no contest for 3,059 of the 9,217 panchayat samiti seats and in 203 of the 825 zilla parishad seats.
Another interesting development was the performance of the Independents, who have bagged more seats than the Left Front.
In South 24 Parganas district's Bhangar that has been on the boil over the construction of a power grid sub-station by the state government in the last one year, Independent candidates backed by Jomi-Jibika-Bastutantra O Poribesh Rokkha Committee (committee for protecting life, livelihood, ecology and environment) won five out of the eight Gram Panchayat seats, where they had filed their nominations via WhatsApp.
The Panchayat Samiti was, however, won by ruling party strongman Arabul Islam who was arrested a day before the election for his alleged involvement in the murder of a local youth.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said his party was moving on the right track. "We have done reasonably well. Had the polls been free and fair, we would have done better", he said.
Sporadic incidents of unrest over the election results were reported from districts like Nadia where a group of miscreants allegedly ran away with ballot boxes. The counting of votes was halted for almost three hours in Nadia's Majhdia after allegations of tampering with the ballot papers were received.
"There are some reports of unrest in the districts but the administrations concerned have already taken action. There are no reports of major violence from anywhere," said, State Election Commission (SEC) Secretary Nilanjan Shandilya
In Birbhum district, BJP and Trinamool Congress activists clashed with each other outside a counting station. Police had to resort to baton charge to disperse the mob.
According to the state administration, 12 persons lost their lives on the polling day, out which six were confirmed have died in the poll violence.
Statistics reveal that of the total 58,692 seats in the three tiers of the rural local bodies, 20,076 seats, or 34.2 per cent, have been decided uncontested, with the Trinamool bagging a whopping proportion of these seats.
These include 16,814 of the total 48,650 Gram Panchayats seats, 3,059 of the 9,217 Panchayat Samiti seats and 203 of the 825 Zila Parishad seats.
The Supreme Court has now asked the SEC not to issue winning certificates in these seats.
(With agency inputs)