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West Bengal Panchayat Election Results: Celebrations Begin As TMC Takes Mammoth Lead, BJP A Distant Second

The TMC reinstated its hold once again in Bengal's panchayats, except Darjeeling and Kalimpong. Party workers and supporters started celebrating with green gulal and distributed sweets in neighbourhoods.

Vote counting underway in West Bengal
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The Trinamool Congress (TMC) looked set to sweep all but two districts in the West Bengal panchayat elections as it has won 18,606 gram panchayat seats out of the 27,985 seats declared on Tuesday, securing  The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged as a distant second, with only 4,482 seats, according to the latest figures by the State Election Commission (SEC).

The TMC reinstated its hold once again in Bengal's panchayats, except Darjeeling and Kalimpong. Party workers and supporters started celebrating with green gulal and distributed sweets in neighbourhoods.

The violence-hit Bengal panchayat elections were held on Saturday. Repolling was held on Monday in 696 booths where voting was declared void because of violence and tampering of ballot papers. At least 15 people were killed on Saturday and the number of deceased since the polls were announced last month is over 30.

As the counting of votes was underway, the BJP on Tuesday blamed TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the violence during the elections and called her ruthless. The BJP claimed that at least 45 people were killed in the violence. 

Meanwhile, TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said, "The results reflect the faith of people in TMC and the state government. It also shows that people have rejected the divisive politics of the BJP and the negative politics of the Congress and CPI (M)".

The counting of votes is taking place at 339 venues across 22 districts of West Bengal. A total of 73,887 seats in rural areas of the state went to polls and 5.67 crore people were eligible to vote.

West Bengal Panchayat Polls: All You Need To Know

The counting of votes began at 8 am on Tuesday at 339 venues across 22 districts of West Bengal.

As per the SEC figures as of 5:30 PM, the TMC won 18,606 seats and the BJP won 4,482 seats. The TMC is leading on 8,180 seats and the BJP is leading in 2,419 seats.

The Left Front has won 1,502 seats, out of which the CPI(M) alone has won 1,424 seats, reported PTI, adding that the party is currently leading in 621 seats. The Congress won 886 seats and is leading in 256. Other parties won 476 seats and led in 208 seats.

The newly formed Indian Secular Front (ISF), an emerging force in the Muslim pockets of Bengal, also performed well. In violence-hit Bhanger, the ISF’s alliance with the CPI(M) and an anti-land acquisition committee gave a neck-and-neck fight to the TMC.

Meanwhile, Independents, including TMC rebels, won 1,060 seats and led in 466 seats, reported PTI.

All counting centres had a deployment of central forces and CCTV cameras installed, according to the officials.

"The counting, which began at 8 am, is likely to continue for the next two days. It will take time for the ballots to be counted and the results to be compiled. We are hopeful that a trend will be available by the end of the day," an SEC official said.

The PTI reported, "All the counting venues are manned by armed state police personnel and central forces, with prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC being imposed outside the venue to avoid any untoward incidents. There are a total of 767 strong rooms across 22 districts."

Repolling in Bengal's violence-affected booths

Owing to the massive scale of violence and allegations of vote tampering on Saturday, the SEC ordered a repoll in 696 booths.

According to the officials, barring minor incidents, the re-polling ordered by the state election commission in 696 booths in 19 districts of Bengal passed off peacefully with 69.85-per cent of all eligible voters casting their ballots till 5 pm.

West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose said, “There will be a relentless fight against growing violence in West Bengal. All authorities will come down with a heavy hand on the goons and the lawbreakers.” 

BJP blames 'ruthless' Mamata for violence

The BJP, which has been critical of the SEC as well, on Tuesday called West Bengal CM 'ruthless' and blamed her for violence.

The BJP said that at least 45 people were killed and it was "state-sponsored" violence. 

BJP's National Spokesperson Sambit Patra said, "Going by media reports, at least 45 people were killed during the panchayat poll violence. Bombing, bogus voting and rigging are the most used words in media reports…This is 'nirmamata' (ruthlessness) and not 'mamata' (endearment). These are state-sponsored institutionalised murders…Nirmam Bandyopadhyay (ruthless Mamata Banerjee), who used to talk 'maa, maati,manush', is being a mute spectator."

The BJP vehemently condemns the poll violence and "murder of democracy" in West Bengal, said Patra.

All about the 2023 Panchayat Polls in Bengal

As per media reports, around 5.67 crore voters were to exercise their franchise to choose representatives for nearly 928 seats across 22 zilla parishads, 9,730 panchayat samity seats and 63,229 gram panchayat seats. 

Ahead of the 2024 parliament elections, the panchayat election, which includes nearly 65 per cent of the state's population, is serving as a litmus test for the state's political parties and it also holds the power to reshape the entire political scenario of the state. 

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This election is also an opportunity for the parties to evaluate their booth-level organisation ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, as most of the 42 parliamentary seats are situated in rural areas of the state.

There are 63,229 gram panchayat seats and 9,730 panchayat samiti seats in 22 districts, while 928 zilla parishad seats in 20 districts as Darjeeling and Kalimpong have a two-tier system with Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) and Siliguri Sub-divisional Council at the top.

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