Kolkata: Maintaining its absolute dominance in the political spectrum of West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has expectedly pulled off a virtual clean sweep in the 108 civic bodies where elections were held on Sunday, February 27. With a handful of votes still left to be counted, the TMC has won or is set to win in 102 municipalities, with the Left alliance and an Independent managing one each. However there is a ‘hung’ outcome in four civic bodies, where Independent candidates who were denied tickets by the ruling party are in second position.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress have been left out in the cold, without a single win. In a historic development, the TMC has wrested control of the Contai or Kanthi Municipality, known as the stronghold of the Adhikari family, which switched to the BJP before the 2021 Assembly polls. The BJP, however, has won four seats in the municipality. “We do not like opposition-free civic bodies. Opposition is important to work, but we can’t help it if people wipe them out,” said Akhil Giri from East Midnapore, where Contai is located.
The Adhikaris – father Sisir and sons Suvendu and Soumyendu – have long been acknowledged as the uncrowned kings of Contai. Having joined the municipality as commissioner in 1969, Sisir Adhikari has been the longest standing chairman of the municipality, to be followed by Soumyendu. A third son, Dibyendu, remains with the TMC. On Tuesday evening, Suvendu led a candlelight procession in protest against the ‘robbing of votes’ in Contai, while his brother had earlier filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in Calcutta High Court. Neither brother has made any comment on the results so far.
Despite the TMC’s sweeping victory, the Opposition parties have accused it of resorting to violence, rigging, and booth capturing on polling day. In her tweet thanking party workers for the victory, Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee has cautioned against arrogance and advised humility. “Let victory enhance our responsibility and dedication. Let triumph impart humility. Let us together work for peace, prosperity and development of the state,” she wrote in her second tweet.
Mamata’s tweets came at around 1.15 pm, when the one-sided victory was a near certainty. In the context of the Opposition’s accusations, her second tweet has caused some comment, considering her advice to be ‘loyal’ and ‘humble’. However, many within the party have also pointed out that this is her usual advice following every election win, and even if the allegations of false voting and rigging were to be accepted, it couldn’t have influenced the results across thousands of polling centres.
The one other point worth noting is the increase in the Left vote share. Of the 2,274 municipal wards in which elections were held, the Left alliance has won 64, or nearly three percent of the seats. Among the significant wins is Taherpur Municipality in Nadia district, where the Left Front has retained control with eight of the 13 seats, the remainder going to TMC.
The third talking point is the rise of the giant killer Hamro Party in Darjeeling Municipality. Only a few months old, this breakaway faction of the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) has romped home with 17 wards in Darjeeling, under the leadership of Ajoy Edwards, owner of the town’s iconic Glenary’s restaurant. Once known as a close associate of late GNLF chief Subhash Ghising though the two later fell out, Edwards had gradually grown disillusioned with the parent party and decided to launch Hamro Party a mere three months before the polls. Now, the newbie has kicked veterans such as Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri to the kerb.
Agencies & Indiablooms News Service