Left Front is the biggest loser; washout for Congress in all but one district

Two years and two months after assuming power in the State, the Trinamool Congress reasserted its hegemony in rural West Bengal, coming up trumps in 13 out of the 17 districts that went to the polls earlier this month. Considering the performance in the last panchayat elections, the biggest loser was the Left Front while for the Congress it was a washout in all but one district.

Though the ruling party swept large swathes of south Bengal, including the region in the southwest affected by left wing extremism, the Trinamool Congress juggernaut hit a wall in three districts of north Bengal and one in the south of the Ganga. Of these, the Left Front and the Congress registered clear majorities in one each while the remaining two threw up a hung zilla parishad.

It was not just at the level of zilla parishads, in the other two tiers also the Trinamool Congress established its supremacy, winning over 55 per cent in gram panchayats and over 64 per cent in panchayat samities.

But for the odd setback in some parts of the State, the Trinamool Congress viewed the electoral outcome as proof of the people’s faith in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Its leaders pointed out that with the Left Front’s resounding defeat in the polls its relinquishing of power at all levels of governance — at the State and panchayat levels — had come full circle. As for the Congress, its credibility as a major player on the political stage in the State has rarely been under such intense scrutiny.

Despite their allegations of massive electoral malpractices besides coercion of voters and its candidates — many of whom were prevented by Trinamool Congress activists to even contest — the Left parties put up a credible resistance in three south Bengal districts. The results in South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas and Nadia districts where it had notched up impressive victories in the 2011 Assembly polls has prompted a section of leadership of the ruling party to admit that this called for introspection.

The Left Front has successfully withstood the Trinamool Congress onslaught in Jalpaiguri in north Bengal — the only district which it has been able to retain. It, however, will play a decisive role in determining the fate of two zilla parishads — Dakshin Dinajpur and Malda — where a clear majority has eluded all.

Its gains in these two districts have been Congress’ loss. In an attempt to decimate it, the Trinamool Congress has played into the hands of the Left, Congress leaders say. It has lost ground in districts like Malda and Uttar Dinajpur once considered its strongholds and left with only Murshidabad district where it has come up trumps.

The results come as a reminder to the Left parties that they have an uphill task ahead if they want to pose any major threat to the supremacy of the Trinamool Congress in rural West Bengal. There is a need for Congress to focus on revamping its organisation.