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West Bengal Panchayat Election Result 2018 updates: TMC makes clean sweep as Opposition yet to win a seat in zila parishads

The West Bengal panchayat election counting is going to take place on Thursday, a day after repolling was held in 568 booths of 20 districts across West Bengal.

FP Staff May 17, 2018 17:45:22 IST
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West Bengal Panchayat Election Result 2018 updates: TMC makes clean sweep as Opposition yet to win a seat in zila parishads

Highlights

17:20 (ist)

Rampant rigging, misuse of ballot papers should settle debate over EVMs once and for all 

If the West Bengal panchayat polls has settled one debate, it is the specious and mischievous Opposition narrative on ballot papers. BJP's pan-Indian dominance had frustrated the Opposition to such an extent that Congress leaders (and many regional satraps started raising questions on EVMs and advocating a return to ballot papers. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, too, had joined the chorus, arguing that "EVMs can be tampered with, so let’s go back to the old system". The developments in West Bengal during the panchayat polls (where ballot papers were used instead of EVMs) showed conclusively which tool is vulnerable to exploitation and which isn't. Whereas the EVMs have ensured truly free and fair elections, a number of instances in Bengal regarding ballot papers proved how these can be easily misused to rig the polls.  

15:51 (ist)

BJP reinforces status as principal Opposition force but remains distant second due to a cocktail of reasons

It is always risky to read into results that are as skewed as those in West Bengal panchayat polls where the discourse has revolved around not whether there was free and fair elections but whether the number of political murders are less this time compared to earlier instances. Yet, the pattern that emerges even from such a subverted democratic exercise is the clear emergence of BJP as the principal Opposition force in Bengal. However, the fact remains that it is a distant second. Despite its upward curve, the party remains organisationally disjointed, structurally weak and severely lacking in leadership.

It is a far cry from its presence elsewhere in India where BJP expands its base and organisational strength gradually and methodically. Its stunted growth in Bengal owes to two reasons. One, infighting within own ranks and two, inability to match up to TMC's vastly superior ground game. The difference between BJP's rise in Bengal and elsewhere in India is that while in other parts of the country it can grow relatively unhindered, in Bengal and Kerala it is facing organised and violent resistance from respective political rivals. In Kerala it is the Left, while in Bengal it is the TMC. 

It isn't a coincidence that in both places Left is and was the dominant political force. While it continues to remain in power in the southern state, in Bengal it has been replaced by a party that has adopted many traits of Leftist ideological traits and has completely replaced the Left Front as a political and ideological force. Therefore, it can be said that TMC is a neo-Left (a tougher version under 'strong' leader who has an autocratic style of functioning). It is evident that BJP is finding it tough to expand in both places.

However, it would be unwise to attribute Opposition's dismal performance to lack of strength alone. Even on counting day, incidents of violence are being reported from different parts of the state. Amid such a situation, BJP has done well in Purulia, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Malda and even in Jhargram. However, the pie chart of Bengal is overwhelmingly green, though the path to it has been paved through red.

10:55 (ist)

TMC leading in all 20 districts

According to early trends, the ruling TMC is leading in all 20 districts which have the panchayati raj institutions in West Bengal. 

08:54 (ist)

'Bottom's up' method likely for counting

The counting of votes is likely to be held in the sequence of gram panchayat-panchayat samiti-zilla parishad on Thursday.

The Telegraph reported that this method will fuel concerns over the security of the counting centres. The 'bottom's up' sequence is in line with the West Bengal Panchayat Elections Rules, 2006 and has been followed in all rural elections since 1978, except in 2008.

08:26 (ist)

Fear of violence grips West Bengal

Violence is expected in West Bengal during and after the counting of votes on Thursday. According to NDTV, after poll officer Rajkumar Roy's body was found in North Dinajpur, some poll officers in the district threatened to boycott poll duty without the assurance proper security. They held a protest on Wednesday in Raiganj and blocked National Highway 34 for hours over this demand.

07:35 (ist)

Poll official found dead near railway tracks

A poll official, Rajkumar Roy, who went missing on the polling day on 14 May, was found dead near the railway tracks in North Dinajpur district. DNA reported that the State Election Commission, however, does not feel that the death may not be connected to poll violence. 

Tweeting with the hashtag 'Save Bengal', he BJP alleged that the Roy was kidnapped on duty from polling booth before being "murdered".

07:20 (ist)

Around 68% voter turnout for repolling

Quoting a West Bengal Election Commission official, DNA reported that around 68 per cent polling was recorded on Wednesday."The repoll has been more or less peaceful," he said. Earlier, the State Election Commission had earmarked 568 booths but it later increased to 572 booths

LIVE NEWS and UPDATES

May 17, 2018 - 17:20 (IST)

Rampant rigging, misuse of ballot papers should settle debate over EVMs once and for all 

If the West Bengal panchayat polls has settled one debate, it is the specious and mischievous Opposition narrative on ballot papers. BJP's pan-Indian dominance had frustrated the Opposition to such an extent that Congress leaders (and many regional satraps started raising questions on EVMs and advocating a return to ballot papers. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, too, had joined the chorus, arguing that "EVMs can be tampered with, so let’s go back to the old system". The developments in West Bengal during the panchayat polls (where ballot papers were used instead of EVMs) showed conclusively which tool is vulnerable to exploitation and which isn't. Whereas the EVMs have ensured truly free and fair elections, a number of instances in Bengal regarding ballot papers proved how these can be easily misused to rig the polls.  

May 17, 2018 - 16:03 (IST)

SEC has not heeded to the gravity of the situation: BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya

BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya says that SEC has been informed about the repeated incidents of violence but no one has heeded to the gravity of the situation. While enlisting the different cases in which BJP workers were attacked, he goes onto say how hard it is to have a fair election in a state where innumerable people have been disrupting counting.  

He says people are ready to vote against TMC as soon as they get the chance to vote in a smooth, peaceful election.

May 17, 2018 - 15:51 (IST)

BJP reinforces status as principal Opposition force but remains distant second due to a cocktail of reasons

It is always risky to read into results that are as skewed as those in West Bengal panchayat polls where the discourse has revolved around not whether there was free and fair elections but whether the number of political murders are less this time compared to earlier instances. Yet, the pattern that emerges even from such a subverted democratic exercise is the clear emergence of BJP as the principal Opposition force in Bengal. However, the fact remains that it is a distant second. Despite its upward curve, the party remains organisationally disjointed, structurally weak and severely lacking in leadership.

It is a far cry from its presence elsewhere in India where BJP expands its base and organisational strength gradually and methodically. Its stunted growth in Bengal owes to two reasons. One, infighting within own ranks and two, inability to match up to TMC's vastly superior ground game. The difference between BJP's rise in Bengal and elsewhere in India is that while in other parts of the country it can grow relatively unhindered, in Bengal and Kerala it is facing organised and violent resistance from respective political rivals. In Kerala it is the Left, while in Bengal it is the TMC. 

It isn't a coincidence that in both places Left is and was the dominant political force. While it continues to remain in power in the southern state, in Bengal it has been replaced by a party that has adopted many traits of Leftist ideological traits and has completely replaced the Left Front as a political and ideological force. Therefore, it can be said that TMC is a neo-Left (a tougher version under 'strong' leader who has an autocratic style of functioning). It is evident that BJP is finding it tough to expand in both places.

However, it would be unwise to attribute Opposition's dismal performance to lack of strength alone. Even on counting day, incidents of violence are being reported from different parts of the state. Amid such a situation, BJP has done well in Purulia, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Malda and even in Jhargram. However, the pie chart of Bengal is overwhelmingly green, though the path to it has been paved through red.

May 17, 2018 - 15:40 (IST)

Police use tear gas shells to control tension in Cooch Behar's counting centre

While police tried to control tension at a counting centre in Cooch Behar by firing tear gas shells, in Domjur people tried to rob ballot papers. TMC workers allegedly tried to appropriate and rip ballot papers, as a result of which police had to resort to lathicharge.- News 18

May 17, 2018 - 15:23 (IST)

Opposition parties have not won any seats under zilla parishad

TMC is leading in 32 seats in Hooghly district and has won the seat of Raghunathpur. Opposition parties have not won any seats under zilla parishad so far. TMC won Purba Bardhaman zilla parishad.

May 17, 2018 - 15:01 (IST)

In Nadia's Majdia, counting has been stalled amid tension

In Nadia's Majdia, counting has been stalled as there has been reports of renewed tension Purulia's Nituria witnessed violence. 

May 17, 2018 - 14:52 (IST)

West Bengal BJP leader Dilip Ghose says that only one party is not winning the elections

West Bengal BJP leader Dilip Ghose said only it is not a one-sided win for the ruling party, BJP is still a part of the race. 

May 17, 2018 - 14:47 (IST)

Machete-wielding goons are making away with ballot boxes

In 14 May elections for 621 zila parishad, 6,123 panchayat samity and 31,802 gram panchayat seats in West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress is on the course to improve even its 2013 tally where it won zila parishads in 13 out of 17 districts, 1,745 out of 3,215 gram panchayat seats and 192 out of 329 panchayat samities. The current leads and trends reveal that the TMC is on course to gain at least 10 percent more seats in the three-tier panchayat polls establishing over 90 percent dominance.    

Given the level of TMC's dominance and lack of Opposition strength, the question is why does the ruling party feel the need to indulge in such nihilism and mindless violence during polls. Even during the day of counting, disturbing reports are emerging from all across the state of subversion of democracy. In one place, machete-wielding goons are making away with ballot boxes while in some cases more ballot papers are discovered than the total number of voters, while in some cases ballot papers are allegedly being stamped while counting is one in full view of TV cameras. Already, 27 people have died (mostly Opposition political workers cutting across political divides) including a presiding officer whose mutilated body was discovered near railway tracks in North Dinajpur on Tuesday. 

May 17, 2018 - 14:42 (IST)

TMC wins Ranigunj which falls under Babul Supriyo's Lok Sabha constituency

The All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) wins Ranigunj Panchayat Samiti in Burdwan west district. Ranigunj is under BJP's Babul Supriyo's Lok Sabha constituency. In neighbouring Purulia, tension surfaced outside a counting centre in Kashipur where Opposition party candididates were allegedly trashed.- News 18

May 17, 2018 - 14:32 (IST)

Watch: Police lathi charge TMC, BJP workers who clashed outside a counting centre in Birbhum

West Bengal panchayat election result 2018 LIVE updates: The ruling Trinamool Congress, which has won 110 seats so far, is leading in 1,208 seats of the total 31,814 being contested. After the last date of filing of nominations, the Election Commission had said that the TMC won 34 percent seats uncontested. A quick glance at the results declared so far confirms the pattern of panchayat polls in West Bengal, where the ruling Trinamool Congress is head and shoulders ahead of its rivals; only the most powerful pair of binoculars may be able to trace the Opposition's presence.

While police tried to control tension at a counting centre in Cooch Behar by firing tear gas shells, in Domjur people tried to rob ballot papers.

Congress supporters have blocked NH-31 after accusing TMC-backed criminals of shooting one of their supporters during clashes outside a counting centre in South Dinajpur.

The counting of votes begun across 20 districts amid fear of violence on Thursday morning. In North Bengal, the counting is underway in Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri and Malda districts.

Poll officer Rajkumar Roy, who went missing on the polling day on 14 May, was found dead near the railway tracks in North Dinajpur district on Wednesday. Tweeting with the hashtag 'Save Bengal', the BJP alleged that the Roy was "kidnapped on duty" from polling booth before being "murdered".

The counting is being held a day after repolling was held in 568 booths of 20 districts across West Bengal. Meanwhile, the Centre termed as "sketchy" details on the panchayat polls violence and asked the West Bengal government to send another report.

Centre's second communication was sent two days after a similar one following large-scale violence during the elections to the local bodies in the state on Monday. Over a dozen lives were lost in the violence.

Aggrieved by the violence during the election that claimed at least 12 lives and left 43 injured, several candidates in the fray met the State Election Commission (SEC) officials and demanded repolling.

More than 38,000 of the 58,000-plus seats were up for contest in the panchayat polls. Before the polls, Trinamool candidates were elected unopposed in 34 percent of the seats, a figure the Supreme Court called "worrying" while directing the commission not to declare them winners. The rural elections were held in 621 zilla parishads and 6,157 panchayat samitis, besides in 31,827 gram panchayats.

 Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Centre called details on the panchayat polls violence as "sketchy" and asked the West Bengal government to send another report, an official said. The second communication was sent two days after a similar one following large-scale violence during the elections to the local bodies in the state on Monday.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked the Mamata Banerjee government over violence in the panchayat polls in West Bengal and called it "murder of democracy", the state's ruling Trinamool Congress responded by saying the PM had an "outburst of frustration". Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee said, "He should know that BJP goons killed 10 Trinamool workers in the panchayat polls. No BJP worker was killed".

With inputs from PTI

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