In a major boost to the party ahead of next year's Assembly polls, the Trinamool Congress on Tuesday scored a landslide victory in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation bagging 114 of the 144 wards, and also won 69 of the 91 civic bodies in districts across West Bengal.
The victory in the municipal polls, which was billed as the semi-final before the assembly polls, will act as a shot in the arm for the TMC, which recently faced serious allegations of corruption, including alleged involvement of some of its leaders in the Saradha Chit Fund scam.
Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee termed the victory as "a befitting reply to the slanderous campaign carried out by the Opposition and a section of the media."
The TMC, which in the last KMC polls had won 95 seats, increased its tally to 114 while the main opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist led Left Front was reduced to just 15 from 33.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which was hoping to replace the Left as the main opposition in the KMC, miserably failed, managing to increase its tally from three to just seven seats.
Independents bagged three seats in the KMC.
The Congress party, which was fast becoming insignificant in state politics, managed to win five seats, down from eight in 2010.
Although the TMC scored a big win, it got some blows too as several heavyweights bit the dust.
Chairman of the outgoing KMC board Sachidananda Banerjee, deputy mayor Farzana Alam of TMC besides prominent party councillor Paresh Pal were defeated.
On the part of CPI-M, the leader of opposition in the outgoing KMC board Rupa Bagchi was defeated by her nearest TMC rival.
Contrary to KMC, the results in the Siliguri Municipal Corporation showed the CPI-M-led Left Front has managed to regain some of its lost ground capturing 23 of the 47 seats.
TMC bagged 17 seats in Siliguri Municipal Corporation, which was regarded as a prestige fight for TMC leader and state minister Gautam Deb and CPI-M leader and former minister Ashok Bhattacharya.
The Congress won five seats while the BJP got two seats and an independent won one seat in Siliguri.
For the Left which suffered major electoral reverses in recent years, the victory in Siliguri Municipal Corporation came as a morale booster.
Apart from its big victory in the KMC, TMC showed impressive results in municipalities across the state.
The party snatched Sonamukhi in Bankura, Baduria, North Dum Dum in North 24-Parganas, Mathabhanga and Tufanganj in Coochbehar, Gayeshpur municipalities in Nadia from the Left and the Congress.
The Left Front won just five municipal bodies -- Jangipur, Dinhata, Daihat, Siliguri and Taherpur -- whereas the Congress won five municipalities -- Murshidabad, Kandi, Jhalda, Kaliagunj and Islampur. The BJP failed to win even a single civic body.
The fate of 12 municipalities is undecided as none of the political parties managed to get a majority.
Dedicating the victory to the people of the state, Banerjee said the results proved that the Opposition's allegations of rigging and violence by TMC cadres were “wrong”.
“This victory is an answer to all the slander and canard that was spread against us. Even with so many TV channels you could not do anything. The polls were completely free and peaceful. Had there been rigging, we would not have lost the few seats,” she said.
“Leave aside Trinamool, there were so many personal attacks against me. I don't know what would have been the consequences if such things were done in any other state. Yet again, it has been proved that in a democracy, it's the people who have the final say,” she said.
“Our board has done well. We have to do more good work to get closer to the people,” she said.
The CPI-M, on the other hand, claimed that the victory of TMC did not “reflect public opinion”.
“The results do not reflect public opinion but are a reflection of muscle and money power. Wherever the Left has put up a resistance to the violence the people have blessed us. The results have also shown it's not the BJP, but the Left which still enjoys mass support and can fight for democratic rights,” CPI-M politburo member Mohammed Salim said.
Image: West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee with her party activists at her Kalighat residence after her party's win in Kolkata Municipal Corporation election on Tuesday.Photograph: Swapan Mahapatra/ PTI