Mamata’s “Friendly Party” Sweeps GTA Polls; TMC wins panchayats, municipal seats | Kolkata
Kolkata/Siliguri: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee cemented her position on Wednesday as the Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha (BGPM), which she describes as a friendly party, won the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) elections while that the Trinamool Congress (TMC) won 19 of the 22 village panchayats under the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad in North Bengal and four of the six municipal wards in North Parganas, Hooghly and Purulia districts.
All of these ballots and by-votes took place on Sunday.
The statewide results showed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) finishing third in many seats while the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M), retained several rural seats in the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad. and snatched Ward No 17 from Chandannagar Municipality in Hooghly District after 32 years.
In Darjeeling, the president of the BGPM, Anit Thapa, is ready to take the lead of the GTA.
Formed nine months ago, the BGPM independently contested 36 of the GTA’s 45 seats and won 27 while the TMC won five of the 10 seats it contested, its first victory in this election.
Hamro Party, which was also recently founded by Ajoy Edwards, owner of a famous confectionery in Darjeeling, won eight seats. Independent nominees snatched the remaining five.
GTA polls deepened the differences between local parties in Gorkha, with 277 candidates, including a record 178 independents, contesting the polls. There are 70,0326 voters in the hill region.
GTA’s last polls were held in 2012 and the mandate of the semi-autonomous local development body ended in 2017.
The BJP, which has won the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat three times in a row since 2009, and the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) opposed the GTA elections alongside the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM) and the All India Gorkha League (AIGL).
These parties argued that Mamata Banerjee organized the elections against the will of the people because the GTA is obstructing the demand for a permanent political solution to the Gorkhaland issue.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which carried the Gorkhaland movement past the GNLF and helped the BJP win the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat three times, became an ally of the TMC ahead of the 2021 elections. But the GJM chairman , Bimal Gurung, boycotted GTA polls while many of its former leaders ran as independent candidates.
Anit Thapa and Binoy Tamang, who were previously GJM leaders, became state government allies in 2017. Both were appointed chairman of the GTA board.
Thapa said, “The real challenge lies ahead of us, as many issues remain to be resolved. I will soon meet the Chief Minister in Kolkata. She congratulated me today.
Edwards said: “We accept the people’s verdict. We will work as a responsible and strong opposition.
The GTA election has been a litmus test for Thapa since he lost the Darjeeling mayoral election held earlier this year. The Hamro party won the polls.
The Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad elections were held because the term of office of the former left-leaning panchayat boards came to an end. The TMC won 19 of the 22 gram panchayats while the BJP managed to win 10 panchayat samiti seats.
Partial polls in six municipal wards in North 24 Parganas, Hooghly and Purulia were held due to the deaths of six candidates who contested the state’s municipal elections held on February 27. Two of the winners were murdered. Anupam Dutta, a TMC leader, and Tapan Kandu of the Congress were killed in North 24 Parganas and Purulia respectively on March 13.
Dutta’s wife Minakshi contested Ward No. 8 of Panihati Municipality which her husband represented and won by 2,274 votes. “This is Anupam’s victory,” she said.
Kandu, who won Ward No. 2 of Jhalda Municipality in Purulia for the fourth time this year, was shot dead by men on motorbikes as he was riding around. The murder is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) under orders from the Calcutta High Court. His wife, Purnima Kandu is also a congressional adviser.
The seat represented by Kandu was won by one of his nephews, Mithun Kandu. “People gave an appropriate response to my uncle’s murder,” he said.
Santanu Sen, a member of TMC Rajya Sabha, said, “From the hills of Darjeeling to the plains of northern 24 Parganas, people have voiced their support for the state government.”
Bengal BJP chief spokesman Samik Bhattacharya claimed that the results did not reflect the true verdict of the voters because the polls were not free and fair.
“The state election commission has been reduced to a TMC party office. Therefore, the results you see are not surprising,” Bhattacharya said.