Bengal civic poll: Didi in control
The Trinamool Congress juggernaut on Wednesday steamrollered all opposition in Kolkata and the adjoining districts, as it routed the CPM-led Left in the municipal polls, wresting control of the prestigious Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) from the Marxists.
Trinamool candidates won 95, or more than two thirds of the seats, in the 141-ward KMC. The Left, which has controlled the KMC since 2005, bagged 33 seats, the Congress, 10 and the BJP, three. Trinamool also wrested control, for the first time, of the Bidhan Nagar municipality, which includes the city’s posh satellite township of Salt Lake.
In the districts, the Trinamool bagged 25 of the 81 municipalities while the Left got 17 and the Congress, 7. As there were no clear winners in 33 municipalities, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool would need backing from the Congress to keep the Left away and assume power. The Left was in power till now in 54 civic bodies of the state.
In a signal quite ominous for the ruling Left Front, the urban voters’ thumbs down to the Left comes despite the Opposition, the Trinamool and the Congress, failing to come to an electoral understanding. The Trinamool victory also comes, belying the predictions of exit polls of vernacular TV channels.
An upbeat Banerjee told newspersons here: “The Buddhadev Bhattacherjee government has lost all right to remain in power. Assembly elections should be held immediately.”
In New Delhi, West Bengal Congress leader and Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, who failed to agree with Banerjee on the seat-sharing formula, congratulated her for the “excellent performance” and accepted that his own party has fared “badly”. The Congress did not win the seat in Jangipur, Mukherjee’s parliamentary constituency, which was taken by the Left.
While Chief Minister Bhattacharjee refused to comment on the results, CPI-M state secretary and Left Front chairman, Biman Bose, rejected the demand for early Assembly polls. “We have 5.2 million voters in the state and only 17 per cent of this took part in the civic polls,” he said, hinting the CPI-M still feels it can outdo the Opposition in rural areas.
In Kolkata, once a Marxist citadel, the Trinamool decimated some of CPI(M)’s strong candidates, and the rout was complete from North to the South, Garden Reach in the west to Kasba in the East. The CPI-M lost even in ward number 100, which had elected Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya five years ago.
More surprisingly, Trinamool virtually reduced the Left Front to a token presence in the industrial belts near Kolkata, in districts like north 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Hooghly. The party also made deep inroads into Burdwan, till now a Red bastion. But the Congress stemmed the rot to some extent in Maldah, Murshidabad and West Dinajpur, where it might form boards if it aligns with the Trinamool, scope of which is wide open.
While Trinamool supporters celebrated all over Kolkata and elsewhere, Left constituent Forward Bloc blamed the CPM’s “arrogance” for the rout.