The Trinamool Congress on Monday appeared set to sweep the crucial panchayat poll in West Bengal with a huge margin in most of the districts, taking a comfortable lead in gram panchayat in 12 of 17 districts.
The initial gram panchayat results showed that the TMC had swept 10 out of 11 south Bengal districts and two north Bengal districts, demonstrating that the two and a half years of incumbency and controversies, including the Saradha chit fund scam, had by and large failed to sway the rural people's faith on the Mamata Banerjee government.
The TMC maintained its lead in 10 out of 11 districts in south Bengal (except Murshidabad) and also showed strong performance in Cooch Bihar and South Dinajpur districts in north Bengal in terms of the number of gram panchayat seats won.
The party was also ahead in the panchayat samities in several of the 17 districts.
In the panchayat samity, TMC was decisively ahead in the erstwhile Left citadel of Burdwan district winning so far 4 of the 31 samities while the Left Front settled for one.
The party has so far bagged three out of the 29 panchayat samities in West Midnapore district and was leading in eight others. The opposition parties have drawn a blank so far.
In Hooghly district, the TMC was leading in five panchayat samities out of 18.
In Birbhum, the TMC was ahed in 11 out of 19 panchayat samities while the Left was ahead in three. Congress has drawn a blank so far.
Like panchayat samities, in the gram pancahayat polls too, the Trinamool was way ahead of its rivals Left Front and Communist Party of India-Marxist, by registering a thumping victory in 12 districts out of 17.
The Left Front came second by winning 3 districts and put up a brave fight in Nadia district. The Congress had put up a very poor show by being able to bag only Murshidabad district under the leadership of Congress strongman and MOS Railways Adhir Choudhury.
The ruling party registered a huge victory in the three districts of Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapur, former Maoist strongholds, by winning majority of its seats.
In the adjoining East Midnapore district too, the TMC registered a major win except at Nandigram, the cradle of Banerjee's anti land acquisition campaign, where the party had to struggle with former Trinamool supporters, who fought as Independents.
In Nandigram block I and block II, out of 17 gram panchayat seats, official Trinamool candidates won 13 seats, while the Independents bagged three seats and Left managed one.
The TMC also swept erstwhile red bastions of Burdwan, Birbhum, Howrah, North 24 Parganas and Hooghly.
In Singur, the Trinamool bagged 12 out of 16 gram panchayat seats, with Left bagging just one and putting up a close fight in three others.
In the five districts of North Bengal, which went to polls, resulted showed that Trinamool had widened its reach in Congress dominated regions.
The party registered spectacular victories in gram panchayat in Coochbehar and south Dinajpur, while making inroads in the Congress domain in North Dinajpur, the home ground of Congress minister and Mamata's bete noire Deepa Dasmunsi.
The Trinanmool had won the gram panchayats in South Dinajpur, Coochbehar districts. With Left managing a victory in North Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri, Malda districts.
However Congress, which had put up a dull show in all the districts across the state, had to be content with only Murshidabad district where it won a majority of the gram panchayat seats.
With the results pouring out, the Trinamool leadership hailed the win as the victory of democracy.
"The results show that it is the victory of the people and democracy. It is also a victory of the 'maa-mati-manush'. People have voted at a difficult time of heat, rains and the ongoing Ramzan. We should respect the verdict and behave in a peaceful manner," Mamata Banerjee said.
The Opposition Left Front and the Congress however, cried foul and claimed that violence and malpractices by TMC resulted in the victory of the ruling party.
"We have definite reports that the TMC resorted to large-scale malpractices," Left Front chairman Biman Bose claimed.