Kolkata(PTI): As predicted, the Trinamool Congress registered a landslide in the West Bengal civic body polls having swept the Kolkata municipal Corporation with a crude majority and also having won nearly 70-plus of the 91 municipalities that went to a two-phase poll in the state. The counting began at 8 am today and by noon the results were out.
One of the highlights of the municipal poll was that Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress retained its firm hold over rural, semi-urban belts and also won in the urban core of Kolkata.
Celebrating the victory, Mamata Banerjee described it a “festival of democracy” and a fitting reply to those who had raised a bogey of terror before the polls. “The polls have shown how people in rural Bengal are with us. The polls have shown how people in urban areas are also by our side,” said Mamata. If polls were rigged how could our sitting councillors lose, she asked. She also urged the people to defy the bandh on April 30.
The overwhelming victory for the Trinamool Congress in the KMC polls came with a minor jolt to the party with it losing four important municipal wards — all falling in Bhawanipore and Rasbehari state assembly segments. Two of these four wards fall in Bhawanipore, the Assembly constituency of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Bhawanipore has eight KMC wards, among which Trinamool has lost two — wards 70 and 77. While wards 70, 86 and 87 were won by BJP candidates, Ward 77 went to Forward Bloc’s Shamima Rehan Khatun.
This after the party mobilised its best leaders — Firhad Hakim, Baishwanar Chatterjee, Sovan Deb Chattopadhyay, Subrata Mukherjee and Subrata Bakshai — to campaign for the polls. Mamata’s family members, including her brothers Kartik, Ganesh and Swapan Banerjee with nephew Abhishek Banerjee, too had held several meetings and public rallies in these areas.
Bhawanipore and Rasbehari have long been considered as TMC’s strongest citadel. But the BJP had gained ground in these wards in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. A close look at the results in these wards indicated that BJP has managed to maintain its 2014 winning margin in these areas.we have won most of the wards in Bhawanipore.”
Regarding Ward 77, Chatterjee said: “This is a traditional seat of the Left Front and it had earlier won the ward.”
Trinamool has also suffered defeat in Ward 87 — the ward of former mayor and Cabinet minister Subrata Mukherjee. The party had fielded his sister Taniya Chatterjee from the ward.
She lost to BJP candidate Subrata Ghosh, who won by a thin margin of 327 votes. In 2014 elections, BJP had led the ward by 1,288 votes. Ghosh, a former RSS activist, said: “In my ward, the turnout was only 52 per cent as people could not come out to cast their votes. The ruling party too has a strong presence here. However, we still won.” In Ward 86, BJP candidate Teesta Biswas won.
Trinamool faced defeat in two more important wards. While former deputy mayor Farzana Alam lost to Left candidate in Ward 65, heavyweight TMC leader Paresh Pal was defeated by Congress councillor Prakash Upadhyay in Ward 29 by 8,056 votes.
Heavyweight CPM leader and Leader of Opposition in KMC, Rupa Bagchi, lost Ward 32 to Trinamool’s Shanti Ranjan Kundu. While Kundu attributed the victory to the “flood of development by TMC government”, Bagchi said: “The locals are more upset than me with the result. They too cannot believe this. I have always been with them. But we will not resist the force of the thousands of outsiders and hooligans who captured booths and did not allow voters to exercise their right.”
“This has made the joy of winning bitter,” said a south Kolkata Trinamool leader, who feared that the party will conduct a post poll postmortem and fix responsibility for the losses.
Former KMC chairman and veteran Trinamool leader, Sachchidananda Banerjee, lost to BJP’s Ashim Bose in Ward 70. Bose won the ward — falling under Bhawanipore Assembly constituency — with a margin of 1,978 votes. In 2014 polls, BJP had led the ward with around 3,000 votes.
Senior Trinamool leader Baiswanar Chatterjee attributed the defeat to the increasing “Gujrati voters” in the area. “More than 50 per cent of the voters here are Gujratis. They are Hindi speaking people and naturally, are inclined towards BJP… The media is after Ward 70 but it is not saying that