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Emphatic victory

As she savours the triumph, Mamata Banerjee has been notably gracious ~ “Me and my party are yet again in boundless gratitude to the people. Celebrate these victories in peace, without getting trapped in provocation of any sort.” The BJP has been routed, most importantly in urban centres where it had performed well during the Assembly elections last summer.

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

The two striking features of the recent civic elections in West Bengal must be the capture of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation by the Trinamul Congress and the debacle suffered by the Bharatiya Janata Party. By any reckoning, the capture of Siliguri and the renewal of mandates in the urban centres of Chandannagar, Asansol, and Bidhannagar do represent an emphatic show of strength, despite the election-eve bickering over the one person-one post construct.

It is a measure of the remarkable psephological swing that Trinamul has won 88 per cent of the wards of the four corporations where elections were held. In Siliguri, the party has won 37 of the 47 wards, prompting the Chief Minister to remark that the victory was the “people’s unadulterated mandate”. As she savours the triumph, Mamata Banerjee has been notably gracious ~ “Me and my party are yet again in boundless gratitude to the people. Celebrate these victories in peace, without getting trapped in provocation of any sort.” The BJP has been routed, most importantly in urban centres where it had performed well during the Assembly elections last summer.

Markedly, Ms Banerjee has named Gautam Deb as the mayor of Siliguri, somehow refusing to do so for the three other municipalities. Trinamul has scored major gains from the saffronite debacle, one that has helped the Communist Party of India (Marxist) regain some ground. Left candidates, largely of the CPI-M, came second in over 100 out of a total of 226 wards that went to the polls last Saturday. The trend of a slide in the BJP’s fortunes had started last December with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation elections. That trend has been reinforced with these municipal elections.

The BJP’s vote-share registered a decline in all four civic bodies. In Biddhannagar, Trinamul captured 39 of the 41 wards. Appropriately enough, the victory in Siliguri has coincided with the Chief Minister’s three-day visit to North Bengal. Hoi-polloi will look forward to a positive outcome, pre-eminently the development of Darjeeling, Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and the two Dinajpurs. Not to forget the promise of a proper international airport in Bagdogra, full-fledged airports in Malda, Cooch Behar and Balurghat and overall development of the region.

Admittedly, however, this constitutes a wider canvas, one that cannot be featured in a municipality’s ambit. Aside from complimenting the electorate, the other purpose of the Chief Minister’s visit is to woo the Rajbanshi segment, whose votes are crucial in at least 27 Assembly segments in the region. The community plays a decisive role in electoral outcomes in 50 per cent of the seats in the region. Prudence would demand that in matters municipal, her party and government are riveted to civic issues per se.