In one-third of the seats, the Opposition parties could not even put up a candidate in West Bengal’s panchayat elections – an all-time record since the first local body elections were held in the state in 1978.
In some districts — like Birbhum — the Opposition failed to put up a candidate in nearly 90% of the seats, while over 50% of another four districts are also without Opposition candidates. The three-tier panchayat poll is scheduled for May 14.
Data released by State Election Commission indicate that at the lowest tier – Gram Panchayat level – the Opposition failed to provide a candidate in 16,814 (34.56%) of the 48,650 seats. Altogether out of 58,792 seats, all three tiers put together, the Opposition could not put up candidates in 20,698 or 35.26% seats. In 2003, during the tenure of sixth Left Front government, the Opposition could not put candidates in 11% seats, which was a record till last night.
Maximum number of uncontested seats – at GP level – are located in seven of 20 districts where polls are scheduled on May 14. These are Murshidabad in the north and six other districts in south Bengal. The south Bengal districts are South 24 Paraganas, Hooghly, Bankura, Purba Bardhaman, Paschim Bardhaman and Birbhum.
In all of these districts the percentage of uncontested GP seats is higher than the State average of 34.56. Highest percentage of uncontested seats, at the GP level, is in Birbhum, which is 87.53%; while in Murshidabad, Bankura, Purba and Paschim Bardhaman it is in the range of 63-64%. In Hooghly and South 24 Paraganas the percentage of uncontested seats are 42.63 and 36.63%.
In two other tiers of the rural poll– the Panchayat Samiti and Zilla Parishad– Trinamool Congress candidates have won in 33.18 and 24.60 seats respectively, without a contest. However, the results will be declared altogether following the counting on May 17, SEC sources said.