Burdwan: The peaceful first phase of the panchayat elections in three former Maoist-hit districts of West Bengal, which saw a high turnout and continued till the early hours, was on Friday hailed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as a `victory of democracy`.
"I salute the people of junglemahal who were not sold out to guns (of Maoists). It is a victory of democracy," Banerjee told a panchayat election meeting after the grassroots polls in Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore districts, which was part of the former ultra stronghold in junglemahal.
"Polling was recorded as high as 80 percent. Many people were seen queuing up till early this morning to cast votes. It was a festival of democracy in junglemahal this time," Banerjee told a panchayat election rally here in Burdwan district.
"For the first time people could vote freely. Earlier also the voting percentage was 80 percent, but CPI(M) used to corner votes," she said.
Stating that women came out in large numbers to vote, she alleged that the CPI(M), Congress, BJP and Maoists had ganged up against the ruling Trinamool Congress which fought the elections alone depending on the `people`s mahajot`.