Amid Rigging Allegation, TMC Sweeps Clean Civic Polls

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Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress made a clean sweep of the three civic bodies, including the high profile Bidhannagar-Rajarhat municipal corporation, the Asansol municipal corporation and the Bally-Howrah municipal corporation – the results for which were declared today.

At 1:30 PM on October 10, 2015, the counts showed clear advantage for TMC as it won 37 seats out of 41 in Bidhannagar-Rajarhat, 75 seats out of 106 in Asansol and 16 out of 16 seats in Bali-Howrah.

The victories reiterate the Trinamool Congress’ continuing hold over urban electorate. The scale and margin of the victories were some indication that the opposition political space has shrunk to a great extent and the Trinamool Congress’s supremacy was still unchallenged – four and half years after it had come to power in 2011. The state goes for the state assembly polls middle of 2016

The polls for civic bodies were held on October 3 amidst allegations of the ruling Trinamool Congress rigging the polls and its cadres assaulting a record number of media persons who were covering the event. The state election commissioner, Sushanta Upadhyay stepped down, complaining that he was under “pressure” from the ruling party for withholding the dates for announcement of results.

An interim state election commissioner was appointed by the West Bengal government with Alapan Bandopadhyay – a serving bureaucrat and an IAS taking over the charge. Mr Bandopadhyay declared the dates for counting of ballots today.

However, the highlight of the results In Bidhannagar-Rajarhat municipality was that the Trinamool Congress was leading in 38 out of 41 seats, almost fulfilling the chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s wish of making it 41 out of 41. Didi had told her cadres that she wanted 41 seats out of 41 in Bidhannagar and her confidence about the outcome was evident as she did not hold a single pre-election rally in Bidhannagar. She had left it to the local leaders to fight the battle and win.

Significant losers in the Bidhannagar-Rajarhat municipality were Dr Asim Dasgupta the former finance minister of the Left Front government and Ramola Chakraborty – the widow of late Subhash Chakrabarty – for popular Sports and Youth Affairs minister of Jyoti Basu’s cabinet. Dasgupta was fielded as the Left’s Mayoral candidate. He lost to his TMC opponent by a margin of over 1400 votes.

Talking to the media after the polls, Das Gupta said that the results were not the “true reflection” of the people’s choice. “Polls were rigged, media persons beaten up. It had been a big farce. “

In Bally the Trinamool Congress made a clean sweep of 16 out of al the 16 seats. Bally municipality has been merged with the Howrah municipal body recently and prior to the polls a scandal had broken out when the anti-corruption cell of the state police unearthed over Rs 22 crore in cash from the house of a sub-assistant engineer of Bally municipality. The money was raised from real estate projects and was believed to have been stocked by those in power. The earlier Bally municipal board was being run by the CPM.

In Asansol too, the TMC has surged ahead as it led in over 72 wards out of a total of 106. The Left candidates were leading in about 15 and the BJP and the Congress were ahead in about 4/5 seats in the initial rounds. Babul Supriyo – the BJP MP from Asansol and a union minister had widely campaigned for the polls. But the initial trends indicated there had been a serious dip in BJP votes both in Bidhannagar-Rajarhat and in Asanlsol even though Babul Suprioy’s individual charisma might have remained intact.

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