Trinamool gets rural poll booster ahead of 2024 polls, BJP decline continues in West Bengal

Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress has handsomely won the recently-concluded panchayat elections in West Bengal but has logged five percent less vote share since the last polls in 2018.

On the other hand, the BJP – still a distant second – gained a very marginal three percent, but could not hold on to its remarkable performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Interestingly, the Opposition combined of the CPI(M) and the Congress – which drew a blank in the 2021 state polls – have done well in certain districts which have a sizable Muslim population. This could also be a worry for the ruling Trinamool as it has always made a robust pitch for the minority vote.

The TMC has so far won 34,716 seats out of 63,229. While the final tabulation is expected Monday, the interim vote share released by the State Election Commission pegs it at 51.14% as compared to 56% in 2018.

The BJP has come second by winning over 9,722 gram panchayat seats, taking its interim vote share to 22.88%.  – a marginal rise from 19% in 2018.

In the last Assembly elections, the BJP had secured 38% vote share.

The CPI(M) and Congress, which continued their alliance since the 2021 state polls, had promised a good fightback. However, despite a moderate showing in Muslim-majority districts like Malda and Murshidabad, the numbers for the coalition are not that good.

With just around 2,937 seats in the gram panchayat, the CPIM has so far won only 12.56% of the total vote share, 0.56 more than 2018.

On the other hand, Congress has won over 2,543 seats in the gram panchayats with a 6.42% vote share. In 2018, it had managed 3.6%.

Political analyst Snigdhendu Bhattacharya told the ThePrint that the combine’s middling success in Malda and Murshidabad – which have a sizeable Muslim population and sends five MPs to Lok Sabha — should worry the TMC as they always aim for a clean sweep in these districts.

“The CPI(M)’s vote share has risen in districts like Nadia, Purba Bardhaman, Paschim Bardhaman, and Hoogly. This could be a concern for the BJP as these are not minority-dominated segments,” he added.

Other than the gram panchayats, there were polls also for the zila parishad and panchayat samitis.

The Trinamool won the majority of the 928 zilla parishad seats picking up all 20 parishads in the bargain. The party won all zilla parishad seats in Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, South Dinajpur, Howrah, Hooghly, North 24 Parganas, East and West Burdhaman, and West Medinipur.

In South 24 Parganas, which has the highest number of zilla parishad seats, the Trinamool grabbed 84 out of 85.

Districts where the BJP had won Lok Sabha seats in 2019, saw the Trinamool win their zilla parishads this time around.

Union Minister Nishith Pramanik’s Cooch Behar saw 30 out of 32 zilla parishad seats go to the Trinamool.

The 2018 panchayat polls had signalled the arrival of the BJP as a serious opposition to the Trinamool, riding on which it won an unprecedented 18 seats in next year’s 2019 elections. In 2014, the party won only two.

These rural elections were a mixed bag for the national party’s leadership in Bengal. The BJP dominated in Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari’s bastion Nandigram.

But central minister and Matua strongman Shantanu Thakur lost his booth to the Trinamool and so did BJP state chief Sukanta Majumdar.

Dilip Ghosh, the national vice president, couldn’t field candidates from Goviballabpur’s Kuliana Panchayat where he is a voter.

No nominations were filed by the BJP in Radhanagar gram panchayat where sitting BJP MP Kunar Hembram is a voter.

In the third leg of the rural polls – the panchayat samitis – the Trinamool got over 6,430 seats out of a total of 9,730. It has got over 92% vote share in these samitis.

The BJP won only 982 seats followed by the CPI(M) with 176 and Congress with 266 seats so far.

In 2018, the Trinamool had won 8,062 seats in the then 9,214 panchayat samitis, securing a vote share of 87.5%.

Congress-bastion Murshidabad has a 67% Muslim population as per Census 2011.

Also read: ‘Victims of circumstances’: Mamata declares compensation for panchayat deaths, slams BJP 



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