Trinamool Congress celebrates massive lead in Bengal rural polls, BJP falls far Behindtext_fields
Kolkata: Counting of votes commenced this morning for the 74,000 seats in Bengal's three-tier panchayat polls. And the ruling Trinamool Congress has taken a significant lead over its closest rival, the BJP. The Trinamool offices across the state have already started celebrating with green gulal and boxes of sweets.
The panchayat polls are being seen as a crucial test ahead of next year's general elections.
The panchayat polls encompass 63,229 gram panchayat seats, 9,730 panchayat samiti seats, and 928 zilla parishad seats.
According to the state Election Commission's data, the Trinamool is leading in 23,198 of the gram panchayat seats, while the BJP is ahead in 5,756 seats. The CPI(M) is leading in 2,048 seats, and the Congress in 1,439 seats. Other parties, including the newly formed Indian Secular Front (ISF), are leading in 1,721 seats. Additionally, independent candidates, including Trinamool rebels, have won 718 seats and are leading in 216 seats.
The polling on Monday was overshadowed by violence in multiple booths, resulting in 15 deaths. Repolling was conducted on 696 booths yesterday amidst allegations of ballot box tampering.
Incidents of unrest continue to occur, with bombs detonating near a counting centre in Murshidabad and the police resorting to lathi-charge in Howrah to control crowds. However, the counting process is being conducted under tight security, with armed state police personnel and central forces stationed at the counting centres. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have been implemented outside the venues to prevent any untoward incidents.
The BJP has accused the Trinamool of attempting to "loot votes" by preventing opposition agents from entering the counting centres. Suvendu Adhikari, the leader of the Opposition, stated, "TMC goons are making desperate attempts to steal the elections by obstructing the counting agents and candidates of the BJP and other opposition political parties from entering counting centres. They are being restricted from going towards the venue, and bombs are being hurled to intimidate counting agents."
In response, Trinamool spokesperson Kunal Ghosh dismissed the allegations as baseless, claiming that they were an attempt to compensate for the BJP's organisational failures. The Trinamool Congress has also claimed that 60% of the individuals who lost their lives in the violence were their supporters. The violence has been prevalent since the announcement of the Panchayat polls, prompting Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose to submit a report on the matter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
In an unprecedented move, the Raj Bhavan has established a "Peace Home" at the Governor's official residence to address people's complaints regarding poll violence.