The people of Kolkata showed an overwhelming support to the Trinamool Congress in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) polls, with the ruling party winning more than 90% of the wards on Tuesday when counting was held. Of the 144 wards, the party won in 134. More than 72% of the votes were polled in its favour. BJP candidates won three seats, the Left Front and the Congress two each and Independents grabbed three seats.
An interesting takeaway is that the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front secured more votes than the BJP, though in majority of the wards they were distant second to the Trinamool Congress. The Left parties secured about 11.7 % votes, while the BJP registered 9.3 % votes. In 66 wards, the Left parties secured the second highest votes, and in 48, the BJP secured the second highest votes. In 16 wards, Congress candidates emerged as the second party in terms of vote share.
Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee described the results as a “victory of democracy”. She said the elections were held in a spirit of festival. “The national parties contested against us. The BJP, Congress and the CPI(M) have all been defeated by people,” she noted. The party would meet on December 23 to decide the Mayor.
TMC’s strong bastion
Kolkata has always been a strong bastion of the Trinamool Congress and this is the third consecutive time since 2010 when it will run the civic body. In the Assembly polls held earlier this year, it had a lead in about 131 wards, while 13 had voted in favour of the BJP. The TMC had secured 61 % votes in Kolkata in the Assembly polls and it has increased to over 72 % in a span of six months. Conditional cash incentives of the government like’’Lakshmir Bhandar’ and outreach programmes such as ‘Duare Sarkar (government at the doorsteps)’ seem to be working in favour of the party.
Election results of the civic body was a foregone conclusion but political observers feel that the polls have thrown up interesting questions on whether the BJP will be able to retain the Opposition space. The Left Front, which has been witnessing electoral setbacks for the past several years, will certainly get some oxygen from the KMC poll results. The question before the BJP is whether they can continue to maintain the Opposition space by choosing to stay away from about 30 % electorate, who are from the minority community.
Elections to the KMC were held on December 19. The Opposition parties had approached the State Election Commission (WBSEC) and the Calcutta High Court seeking deployment of Central armed police forces, but neither the High Court nor the poll body acceded to the request. Isolated incidents of violence , including attacks on candidates, were witnessed on the day of polling.