Kolkata: The ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal romped towards a massive victory in the Panchayat polls which was being regarded as a curtain raiser to the next general elections. The polls were also considered as the biggest test of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's popularity since she came to power in 2011.

The TMC is on the verge of winning majority of the gram Panchayats and the Panchayat samilties (the lowest and the middle levels, respectively, of the three-tier rural council system) in 12 of the 17 districts of the state. In the Panchayat samities, the Trinamool's success story was more spectacular, as it was winning over 70 percent of the bodies overall, in contrast to around 60 percent in the gram Panchayats.

As per the latest results, the Trinamool had claimed 163 of the 225 samities, with the Opposition Left Front bagging 51. The Congress got only 19. Some of the samities returned hung verdicts. With counting almost over in the gram Panchayats and majority of Panchayat samities, the Mamata magic seems to be intact in bulk of the districts.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front, which had established its dominance in 13 districts in the previous elections held in 2008, suffered huge losses, particularly in south Bengal. But it managed to do better in some of the northern districts, mainly benefiting from a triangular contest with the Trinamool cutting into the traditional bases of the Congress.

The LF finished as the single largest combination in the gram Panchayats of Jalpaiguri district, and led in the samities. It also came up with a good show in Murshidabad, Malda and North Dinajpur districts, for long strongholds of the Congress. Nadia district was seeing a close fight between the Trinamool and the LF, with the former in the lead in the gram Panchayats, and the latter moving ahead in the samities.

(Agencies)

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