The results of the West Bengal panchayat election 2023, which served as a crucial test for the Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are being announced today. Following a series of sporadic violence throughout the state, the results of the election, seen as a significant indicator for the ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition BJP ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, are being declared amidst strict security measures implemented by central forces and the state police.
Supporters of the Trinamool Congress celebrated the victory of their party candidates in the West Bengal panchayat election 2023 at a counting center in North 24 Parganas on Tuesday (as shown in the accompanying photo from ANI). The counting of votes commenced at 8am, with all counting centers having a presence of central forces and CCTV cameras for enhanced security.
Here are the top 10 updates on the West Bengal panchayat election results:
1. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) emerged as the dominant party in the violence-affected rural polls, securing victory in 28,985 gram panchayat seats and leading in an additional 1,540 seats, as reported by the State Election Commission (SEC) until 10:30 pm on Tuesday. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the closest rival, has won 7,764 seats and is leading in 417 seats. Overall, the elections were held for 63,229 gram panchayat seats.
2. The Left Front has secured 2,468 seats, with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) alone winning 2,409 seats. The Left is currently leading in 260 seats. The Indian National Congress (Congress) has won 2,022 seats and is leading in 139. Other parties have secured 725 seats and are leading in 23 seats. Additionally, independent candidates, including those who rebelled against the TMC, have won 1,656 seats and are leading in 104 seats.
3. The state election commission ordered re-polling in 696 booths across 19 districts of Bengal due to incidents of deadly violence and booth-capturing reported during the voting on July 8. The re-polling took place on Monday, with 69.85% of eligible voters casting their ballots until 5pm.
4. On Monday, four more deaths were reported, bringing the total toll of political violence to 42 since the announcement of the three-tier local body polls on June 8. Allegations of vote tampering marred the panchayat elections, prompting the SEC, led by Rajiva Sinha, to order a repoll in affected booths across all but three districts of Bengal.
5. The BJP strongly criticized the Trinamool Congress government, accusing it of “state-sponsored” violence. The party referred to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as “ruthless” and claimed that at least 45 people had died in the clashes. The BJP announced the formation of a four-member fact-finding committee, including Member of Parliament and former Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and Member of Parliament Dr. Satyapal Singh, to visit the violence-affected areas in West Bengal.
6. The Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, stated that 133 individuals from West Bengal have sought shelter in Assam due to the violence surrounding the panchayat elections. The Chief Minister assured them of receiving humanitarian aid during times of crisis and mentioned that they have been provided shelter in a relief camp.
7. On July 8, at least 19 individuals were killed, and dozens were injured amid widespread allegations of booth capturing, rigging, looting of ballot boxes, heckling of polling officials, firing, and bomb attacks. The number of deaths solely on voting day stood at 17, surpassing the 12 deaths recorded in polling day violence in 2018.
8. Repolling commenced on Monday at 7am under tight security, with at least four central forces personnel deployed in each booth, in addition to the state police. Voters who were in queues by 5pm were allowed to cast their ballots, and election officers worked overtime to ensure a smooth process.
9. On Monday, Governor CV Ananda Bose met with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and briefed him on the violence that occurred in West Bengal two days prior.
10. In 2018, the TMC had won 34% of the seats in the uncontested panchayat elections. This year, the ruling party has also secured several seats without contestation, leading to allegations from the opposition that TMC cadre prevented numerous candidates from filing nominations.