Kolkata: After a phenomenal victory in the Assembly polls, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee will be sworn in as West Bengal Chief Minister for a second term on May 27. As counting of ballots progressed, Trinamool Congress continued to surge ahead of its rivals, leading in 215 seats, whereas the Congress-Left combine is ahead in 72 seats and BJP in seven.
Scoring a bigger victory than last time, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said, "We are indebted to the people for reposing their faith in us once again. With this massive support, we will take Bengal to new heights."
"I am a commoner, an LIP - Less Important Person. I like to work with people," she added.
Terming the alliance between Congress and CPI(M) a 'blunder', she said, "When ideology is lost, everything is lost. People of West Bengal have rejected attempts to mislead them, and not listened to conspiracies".
In the 2012 Assembly elections, TMC had clinched 184 seats ending the Left Front's 34-year rule. This time, the party has comfortably crossed the 200-seat mark. What baffles everyone is why the CPI(M) chose to ally with its traditional enemy in the state, the Congress.
Mamata Banerjee won her constituency in Bhawanipore by 25,000 votes. However there were few upsets in the TMC with four of Mamata's ministers losing the elections. They are Madan Mitra, Chandrima Bhattacharya, Manish Gupta, Sabitri Mitra and Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury.
Mamata had been on the backfoot in the run up to the elections because of the Saradha chit fund scam and the Narada sting operation. The loss of lives after the collapse of a flyover in Kolkata added to her woes. However, she came back stronger than before. After this win, Mamata not only emerges as the undisputed leader but strengthens her chances of a strong position in a possible Third Front for the 2019 general elections.
2.30 pm: As hours pass by, the Trinamool Congress has started receiving setbacks after leading since morning. Its six heavyweight candidates — Madan Mitra, Chandrima Bhattacharya, Baichung Bhutia, Manish Gupta, Sabitri Mitra and Krishnendu Narayan Choudhury suffered losses. Mr Mitra, the arrested Saradha scam accused former minister who fought the polls from behind bars, lost to CPI(M) candidate Manas Mukherjee whom he had defeated in 2011 in Kamarhati. The margin was however something over 1000 votes this time.
On the other hand Ms Bhattacharya who was deputy health minister lost to CPI(M) candidate Tanmoy Bhattacharya in Dum Dum North. Another big loss to the Trinamul was the result in Jadavpur where former CPI(M) MP Sujan Chakraborty defeated Mr Gupta, a retired bureaucrat who was the power minister. Mr Choudhury and Ms Mitra lost to alliance candidates in Malda.
11.30 am: Narendra Modi congratulated Mamata Banerjee on Trinamool Congress' impressive victory in West Bengal. Mamata thanked the Prime Minister for his wishes.
11.15 am: In Kolkata, TMC bagged two seats -- Sitting MLA Shashi Panja defeated Congress backed-Left candidate Piyali Paul in Shyampukur and sitting MLA Noyona Bandopadhyay in Chowringhee defeated Left-backed Congress candidate Somen Mitra.
11 am: Leads suggest massive win for Trinamool Congress. Here are the TMC figures from the districts:
Kolkata: TMC ahead in 11 out of 12; Burdwan: TMC - 16, Alliance - 9; Birbhum: TMC - 8, Alliance - 3; Cooch Behar: TMC - 7, Alliance - 2; Alipurdooar: TMC - 2 BJP - 3; Purulia: TMC ahead in all 9 seats.
10.30 am: In her own constituency in Bhawanipore, Mamata Banerjee has been leading all through while BJP's Chandra Kumar Bose and Congress' Deepa Dasmunshi were trailing.
10 am: After two hours of counting, the Trinamool Congress is ahead in at least 210 seats while the Left Front-Congress alliance is trailing in around 65 seats. Slogan like "Thanda thanda cool, cool; ghore ghore Trinamool" were heard outside Mamata Banerjee’s residence as hundreds of TMC supporters thronged the chief minister's residence at Harish Chatterjee Street in Kalighat.
9.30 am: Celebrations broke out in south Kolkata as Trinamool Congress was leading with 169 in the 294-seat West Bengal Assembly. According to the Election Commission, TMC-83, Congress-12, Left-13, BJP-2, RSP-1, GJM-2, Independent-1.
9.15 am: Saradha scam-tainted Madan Mitra has been trailing according to latest reports. Almost all the senior ministers of Mamata's cabinet are ahead comfortably.
9.00 am: After the first one hour of counting of votes, TMC is leading in 108 seats while the alliance of Left Front and Congress leads in 53 seats. Among those seats in which the ruling party is ahead of others is Kamarhati, where arrested Saradha chit fund scam accused TMC MLA Madan Mitra fought the polls from behind bars. Significantly, BJP has gained lead in three seats. In the hills GJM is leading in Darjeeling.
8.30 am: Early lead for Trinamool Congress in Howrah Central, Howrah North, Bally, Mangalkot, Coochbehar South, Sitai, Alipurduar, Kalna, Burdwan South, Raina, Purbasthali South and Indus constituencies. On the other hand, the alliance candidates have taken lead in four seats: Jalpaiguri, Chakulia, Bijpur and Karandighi.
In Kolkata, the Trinamul is on the lead in five constituencies: Chowringhee, Beliaghata, Shyampukur, Manicktala and Entally. On the other hand BJP is on lead in Jorasanko while alliance candidate is leading in Jadavpur.
The story so far:
A team of 20,000 personnel from the state and central government has been deployed to count votes in 394 counting halls which are being guarded by 78 companies of central forces.
As the exit polls gave the Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee a clear majority, pollsters see Didi return to Nabanna, the administrative headquarters. However, the Left Front and Congress are hopeful that the formation of an alliance government is only a matter of time.
The alliance of Left parties and Congress threw a major challenge to the ruling Trinamool Congress government. Despite being on the backfoot because of the Saradha chit fund scam and the Narada sting operation, several exit polls have predicted that Mamata Banerjee will return to power.
TMC in an alliance with the Congress shot to power in 2011 after 34 years of Left rule. The AITMC-Congress alliance won 226 of the 294 seats, with Trinamool Congress capturing 184 and the Congress 42 out of 65 contested seats. This time around, the Congress has switched to the Left camp – the unlikeliest alliance ever given their history in the state – but they have one common enemy: Mamata Banerjee.
Elections in the state were held in six-phases beginning from April 4 with 1961 candidates including 198 women in the fray.
In the two parts of first phase elections, the voter turnout was 84.22% and over 83% respectively. In the second phase, 79.70% people exercised their right to vote. A series of clashes between political rivals broke out during the third phase, but the violence failed to deter the electors who thronged the polling booths, recording a 79.22 % voter turnout. In the fourth phase, the voting percentage was 78.05%. In the fifth phase 78.25% of voters exercised their franchise while the sixth and final phase once again witnessed around 84.24% of polling....