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18 May 2018

Panchayat Polls: Trinamul leads, BJP follows

BJP, Trinamul Congress, Gautam Deb, panchayat electionsSNS | Siliguri | May 18, 2018:  The BJP has made significant inroads into the assembly constituency of state tourism minister and Trinamul Congress strongman Gautam Deb at Dabgram-Fulbari, the results of the gram panchayat (GP) elections declared in the area on Thursday have suggested.

Though the Trinamul managed to win the four GPs–Fulbari- I, II and Dabgram-I, II, the BJP did put up a good show. At Fulbari-I, the ruling party bagged 12 seats, while the BJP walked away with nine, while one seat remains undecided in the 22-seat GP.

At the 20-member Fulbari- II, the Trinamul bagged 18 seats, BJP one, and one seat went to an Independent candidate. The Trinamul also won eight seats and BJP two in the 10-seat Dabgram-I GP.

In the 30-seat Dabgram-II GP, the ruling party won 21 seats, and the BJP bagged seven, while the CPI-M barely managed to get one seat. One more seat there went to an Independent candidate.

The CPI-M put up a dismal performance as it managed to bag only one seat in the four GPs. Dabgram-Fulbari comprises 14 wards under the Siliguri Municipal Corporation. In the last polls in 2013, the CPI-M had won Dabgram-I and Fulbari-II GPs, while the ruling party failed to win in all the four GPs.

Trinamul Congress later wrested control of all the GPs. Minister Deb said the victory was expected as people cast their votes after being inspired by development work carried out by the Mamata Banerjee-led state government.

“We are yet to examine the total results, but overall, the results are satisfactory. I can comment more only after having the results of the panchayat samitis and the Zilla Parishad,” he said.

Political analysts said such rise of the BJP was a matter of concern for the Trinamul Congress. “The saffron party was able to capitalise on some Trinamul Congress votes since the votes were split after rebel party candidates contested too. The votes of the opposition parties went to them as the CPIM has lost its ground. The BJP managed to get seats in all those GPs, while one needs to use a microscope to find the CPI-M there. The BJP also gained by the internal feud in the ruling party in the area,” an analyst said.

It may be mentioned here that massive development work is being carried out in the Dabgram-Fulbari area for the past few years, and things like road connectivity, drainage and electrification have seen a sea change, while new educational institutes and other establishments are fast coming up in the area.

“The performance of the party cannot be determined by only one GP (Fulbari-I). In the three other GPs, we are much ahead of the Oppositions. However, we would definitely work on the loopholes,” said a senior leader of the Trinamul Congress.

Meanwhile, Siliguri mayor Asok Bhattacharya said the entire election process–from filing of nomination papers to counting–was a farce. “We appeal to people to prepare for a bigger movement to save democracy,” he said.

On the other hand, despite special initiatives taken by the state government to increase wages for tea workers, the BJP performed well in the tea belt areas like Metelli, Nagrakata, Banarhat, Kalchini, Sankos and Madarihat.

In Rajganj block in Jalpaiguri, officials failed to complete vote counting after alleged snatching of ballots and ballot boxes. Trinamul Congress activists allegedly drove out counting agents belonging to the BJP and others political parties there.

According to the Jalpaiguri district administration officials, polling was held for 128 of the 196-gram panchayat seats in the Malbazar block, and that the Trinamul Congress bagged 94 seats, the BJP bagged 17, Independent candidates won 11 and the CPIM won three, Congress 1 and others 1.

In Nagrakata, candidates had contested in 90 of the 91 seats, and the Trinamul won 47 seats, the BJP 32, others, including the Left, bagged 10. In Matteli, polling was held for 77 of the 81-gram panchayat seats, and Trinamul Congress won 45, the BJP 16, CPI-M 7, Congress 4, Independent 4 and others 1.

In Jalpaiguri, election was held for 1231 of the 1347 gram panchayat seats, and the Trinamul bagged 748 seats and was leading in 18 seats, while the BJP secured 84 seats and was leading in one until evening.

On the other hand, the CPI-M had bagged 49 seats, Congress 16, Forward Bloc 4, RSP 2, CPI 1, Independent 33 and others 3, there. While counting for the Panchayat Samiti vote was going on till late in the evening, officials said counting for the Zilla Parishad seats had not started yet.

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