Kolkata, May 18: The ruling Trinamool Congress looked set for a resounding win bulldozing all political rivals in rural West Bengal on Thursday in the vote count for the three-tier state Panchayat election, with the BJP emerging a distant second in almost all the districts.
The Left Front, which ruled the state for 34 years till 2011, lay decimated in the third position, while the Congress was virtually wiped out in Monday's polls, which were marred by widespread violence and allegations of strong-arm tactics and irregularities against the Trinamool.
As per latest reports, the state's ruling party has won 20,277 Gram Panchayat (lowest tier) seats of 31,814 that were contested, while it was leading in 382 seats. The party has won 2,605 out of 6,125 contested Panchayat Samiti (middle tier) seats and were comfortably ahead in another 431.
The Trinamool Congress also seemed on track to win all 20 Zila Parishads.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee congratulated the party workers for the massive win and dedicated the victory to the people.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which managed to bag 5,416 Gram Panchayat and 282 Panchayat Samiti seats, gave a tough fight to the Trinamool in two western districts -- Purulia and Jhargram. The saffron outfit also led in 34 and 43 seats, respectively, in the two tiers of the rural body.
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."
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," State Election Commission (SEC) Secretary Nilanjan Shandilya told IANS.
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 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.