Trinamool sweeps rural pollstext_fields
As per reports, and with full official reports still to come Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress has won 90% of the seats in the West Bengal panchayat elections, thrashing all the major opposition parties. The polls were marred by violence and resulted in the death of 45 people. Bengal has never witnessed a peaceful election in the recent past but this time the bloodshed was unprecedented. In addition to 70,000 local policemen, the Modi government also sent 65,000 CRP personnel to maintain peace, ignoring objections from the ruling Trinamool. However, re-polling was required in 697 Zilla Parishad booths and 9,730 Panchayat Samitis which served as proof that the security forces were unable to ensure a peaceful polling and prevent incidents of violence. Instances of stealing ballot boxes and stuffing them with fake votes, holding booths, and assaulting presiding officers were more prevalent in Murshidabad, Cooch Behar, Malda, South 24 Parganas, North Dinajpur, and Nadia districts. The fact that a good number of those killed were members of the ruling Trinamool party shows that the violence was not as one-sided as the opposition would allege. When the results finally come out, it became evident that Mamata Banerjee's impact and influence have not diminished at all. Trinamool has already won 42,097 seats out of 63,229 gram panchayat seats. The opposition BJP won 9223 seats, the Left Front 3021 seats, and the Congress 2430 seats till Wednesday afternoon. Trinamool candidates were leading in most of the remaining seats. In district councils, 208 seats supported the ruling party Trinamool while BJP got only four. While the Congress won four Parishads, the situation of the CPM is pathetic. The party that has ruled the state for 35 years had to be done with the two Parishad seats. As in the assembly elections, the alliance with the Congress in the elections to the local self-governing bodies turned out to be a losing deal for the CPM.
By the time the curtain rises on the 2024 Lok Sabha election campaign, the irresistible advance of the Trinamool and the collapse of the opposition will make their hearts beat faster. Out of the total 42 Lok Sabha seats, Trinamool has 22 seats, BJP has 18 seats and Congress two seats. CPM has no seats. Even when it is accepted that the parliamentary elections are different from the Panchayat-Zilla Parishad elections, no changes can be expected to upset the results. This means that if the unity of the opposition at the national level becomes a reality, the bargaining power of the regional parties will increase and the Congress cannot expect much of an upper hand. Only if the parties like Trinamool, DMK, and Samajwadi can be kept together by making maximum compromises will there be at least a slight possibility of an upset victory as planned by the Congress. The question as to who will lead the party after Mamata Banerjee, has started being raised. Trinamool is an individual-focused that claims no ideological identity. It is another matter that most of the parties have reached such a decline now. Mamata's nephew Abhishek Banerjee is working behind the scenes and preparing to become the successor. Mamata also gives hints that her nephew is the successor. It remains to be seen how committed Abhishek and the party are to the fundamental tenets of the Constitution in the current environment where secular democracy and freedom are under severe threat. Trinamool's core strength is the religious minority, which plays an important role in determining the fate of Bengal. It was by coupling to that the valour of Bengali sub-nationality that Mamata overcame the BJP's all-powerful preparations and intimidation in the last assembly elections. Neither the entry of Asaduddin Owaisi nor the entry of the Indian Secular Front has made the minority abandon Mamata. At the same time, it remains a challenge for Mamata to effectively counter the BJP's communal polarisation efforts.