The BJP has done well in tribal-dominated Purulia, Jhargram, West Midnapore and Bankura, a former Maoist hotbed. (Representational Image)
The BJP has emerged as the second biggest party in the panchayat polls. It had won 5,465 (17.1 per cent) and was leading in 28 of the 31,812 gram panchayat seats till 9:30 pm on Thursday. The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) had bagged 20,441 (64.2 per cent) and was leading in 315 seats. It had earlier won 34.2 per cent panchayat seats uncontested. The independents with 1,741 (5.4 per cent) had managed more seats than the Left Front (1615), which has ruled the state for 34 years. The Congress had bagged just 993.
The BJP has done well in tribal-dominated Purulia, Jhargram, West Midnapore and Bankura, a former Maoist hotbed. In Purulia, the BJP had managed 638 (till 7:30 pm) seats while TMC won 754. It was neck and neck in Jhargram too with the BJP getting 329 and TMC 373 seats. In Bankura, the BJP won 231 seats and TMC 912. The TMC managed 1,457 seats and BJP 352 in West Midnapore.
The BJP’s performance has been better in North Bengal and in Malda, a Muslim majority district and a Congress stronghold. The BJP came second there ahead of Congress and the Left. The BJP won 526 seats while TMC managed 1,080 seats in Malda. The Congress got 379 and the Left 144. In North Bengal districts of Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri, the BJP got 268 and 286 seats. TMC got 545 and 780.
The BJP had won 460 (7.5 per cent) and was leading in 28 of the 6,125 panchayat samiti seats till 9:30 pm. The TMC won 3,598 (58.7 per cent) and was leading in 299 seats. The CPM was third with 63 seats and leading in seven. Independent candidates won 77 seats and were leading in two.
The BJP was leading in five of the 621 zilla parishad seats. TMC won 159 seats (25.6 per cent) and was leading in 168 seats. The CPM was leading in just one and independent candidates in two seats.
The BJP had got 17.2 per cent vote share in West Bengal in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. It was a major jump from 6.4 per cent votes it had managed in 2009. In 2016 assembly polls, the BJP got 10.16 per cent vote share in the state.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh expressed satisfaction over the results, saying they were not bad despite facing “terror” from the nomination phase. “We would have done much better if our candidates had been allowed to submit their nominations and if the ruling party had not killed democracy by using its goons,’’ he said. “The real game will be played in the Lok Sabha elections and we will show that people of Bengal are with us.”
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee hinted at attempts to influence the elections. “Bengal shares its border with Jharkhand, Bihar and Bangladesh. Why people from Bangladesh were brought to the state on the poll day?’’ she asked. “What was BSF doing? Law and order is a state subject. Why were we not informed about it?”
Mamata said large amounts of cash was seized. “Cash was brought from various places.. from Assam, Jharkhand and other places. Who bought this and why was it done during West Bengal panchayat polls?”
A TMC leader said the successful independent candidates are mostly disgruntled members of the ruling party who had failed to get tickets. “Our party will evaluate their backgrounds and if they have not harmed our party, it is likely that they will be accepted once more.”