KOLKATA: The counting for West Bengal Gram Panchayat Election Results 2018 is currently underway at 291 centers. The chief parties in the fray are Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The voting took place for 621 zilla parishads, over 6000 panchayat samitis, and nearly 31000 gram panchayats. The districts are Bankura, Burdwan, Birbhum, Darjeeling, Howrah, Hooghly, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Malda, Paschim Medinipur, Purba Medinipur, Murshidabad, Nadia, Purulia, North 24-Parganas, South 24-Parganas, Dakshin Dinajpur, Uttar Dinajpur, Siliguri MP, Kolkata-North, Alipurduar, Kolkata-South and Paschim Burdwan.
The State Election Commission has emphasised on finishing counting within two to three rounds. Extra tables have been laid out in each centre for the same. In 2013, the counting for WB gram panchayats continued well past midnight. In some places, the results were declared the next day. Each counting centre will have a three-tiered security system, with armed security personnel guards. Section 144 has been implemented within 200 meters of the counting center.
Clashes were reported from several districts on polling day. At least 12 persons died and over 40 injured after clashes ensued between cadres of the contesting parties. Reports of miscreants stopping the voters from exercising their franchise, booth capturing and destroying ballot boxes/papers emerged from several districts.
Following the violent clashes, the State Election Commission ordered repolling in 572 booths. The voting was held on May 14, repolling on Wednesday, May 16. Over 73 per cent of the electorate had turned out to cast their vote, while 68 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the repolls. The SEC had initially earmarked 568 booths for repolls but later increased it to 572 booths.
Statistics reveal that of the total 58,692 seats in the three tiers of the rural local bodies, 20,076 seats, or 34.2 percent, have already been decided uncontested, with the Trinamool Congress bagging a whopping proportion of these seats, reported IANS. These include 16,814 of the total 48,650 gram panchayats seats, 3,059 of the 9,217 panchayat samiti seats and 203 of the 825 zila parishad seats. The Supreme Court has now asked the SEC not to issue winning certificates in these seats.
Criticism emerged from several sections following the widespread violence that ensued in the state rural panchayats. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called it murder of democracy. “The scenes from the Panchayat Elections in West Bengal. It was nothing but a murder of democracy. From the nomination stage to the day of polling, where was the spirit of democracy? People were bullied," said the PM.
Dismissing all allegations of violence, the Trinamool Congress has termed the reports as baseless.