West Bengal Panchayat Election Results: Crucial Test for TMC and BJP amidst violence

West Bengal Panchayat Election Results

The West Bengal panchayat election results are being declared amidst tight security, following days of sporadic violence across the state. The election is seen as a crucial test for the ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

As the counting of votes began at 8 am, all counting centers were under the watchful eye of central forces and CCTV cameras. As of now, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) seems to be leading in the violence-affected rural polls, securing victory in 16,330 gram panchayat seats out of the 23,344 seats declared by the State Election Commission.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the nearest rival with 3,790 seats. The Left Front has won 1,365 seats, with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) alone winning 1,206. The Congress has won 886 seats, while other parties, including the newly formed Indian Secular Front (ISF), have won 937 seats. Independents, including TMC rebels, have won 418 seats.

The re-polling, ordered by the state election commission in 696 booths across 19 districts of Bengal due to violence and booth-capturing incidents during the July 8 voting, took place on Monday with a turnout of 69.85%.

The panchayat elections have been marred by allegations of vote tampering and violence, resulting in the State Election Commission ordering a repoll in affected booths. The Trinamool Congress government has come under fire from the BJP over the unrest, calling Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee “ruthless” and asserting that at least 45 people had died in the clashes. The BJP has nominated a four-member fact-finding committee, including MP and former Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, to visit the violence-affected areas in West Bengal.

Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has stated that 133 people from West Bengal have taken shelter in Assam due to fears for their safety following the election violence. The panchayat elections on July 8 saw widespread allegations of booth capturing, rigging, looting of ballot boxes, heckling of polling officials, firing, and bomb attacks.

The death toll from the violence has reached 42 since June 8 when the elections were announced. In 2018, the TMC had won uncontested in 34% of the seats, and this year, they have also won several seats without contesting, leading to allegations from the opposition that TMC cadre prevented their candidates from filing nominations.

The West Bengal panchayat election results hold significance as they serve as a litmus test for both the ruling party and the opposition. With the TMC seemingly securing a lead, it remains to be seen how this outcome will shape the political landscape in West Bengal and impact the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in 2024.

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