Kolkata: West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress on Tuesday surged far ahead of its rivals in the counting of votes cast in recent polls to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and 91 other civic bodies in the state.
In the 144-ward Kolkata Municipal Corporation, the Trinamool Congress seemed virtually assured of retaining the board, having either won or established a lead in 99 wards. The Left Front had the pride of place in 16, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in nine and the Congress in seven.
Elsewhere in the state, the Trinamool has emerged victorious or left behind its rivals in 51 civic bodies. The electors preferred the Congress in six and the Left Front (LF) in five. Six civic bodies have produced hung results so far.
In the eastern metropolis, Mayor Shovan Chatterjee won by a huge margin of 5,500 votes from ward number 131. He said the victory is a sign of common man's support.
"We will work more responsibly for the betterment of people," said Chatterjee, who is likely to take over as mayor once again.
But in a setback to the Trinamool, Deputy Mayor Farzana Alam and chairman of the outgoing board Sacchidananada Bandopadhyay bit the dust.
On the other hand, leader of the opposition in the KMC and Communist Party of India-Marxist candidate Rupa Bagchi lost from ward No.32.
She blamed widespread rigging by the ruling party for her defeat.
"The state Election Commission was a silent spectator. Outsiders cast votes and there was mass rigging," Bagchi said.
Apart from Kolkata, two other municipal corporations - Siliguri and Chandannagar - as also 88 municipalites and the Taherpur Notified Area went to the hustings in the state.
The Trinamool seemed to have swept away all opposition in the southern part of the state, where it was in the lead in all areas but in Murshidabad and Purulia.
The Trinamool got a clear majority in almost all civic bodies in North 24-Parganas, Nadia, East Midnapore, West Midnapore, Howrah and Hooghly districts.
The Congress retained the Jhalda municipality in Purulia district, and did well in civic bodies in Murshidabad district.
In north Bengal, however, the trends showed the opposition managed to put up a stiff fight in several areas.
The Left Front was likely to finish as the single largest grouping in north Bengal's Siliguri Municipal Corporation, where it fielded former state minister Ashok Bhattacharya as the mayoral candidate.
The opposition parties have raised a shrill pitch over their allegations that the Trinamool resorted to violence and terror tactics and adopted unfair means to win the polls in various parts of the state.
The Left Front has called a 12-hour general strike and the BJP a shutdown across the state on April 30.
Several trade unions, including those affiliated to the Left Front constituents and the Congress, have also given the call for a general strike the same day.