65 per cent turn-out in civic polls
Barring stray incidents of violence, West Bengal's civic polls went off smoothly, with 65 per cent turn-out.
The 141-ward Kolkata Municipal Corporation was the bone of contention between Trinamool Congress and Congress. Prior to the election, the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and West Bengal Pradesh Congress president Pranab Mukherjee traded strong words, accusing each other of breaking the alliance in West Bengal.
The only blot was in Patuli, in south Kolkata, where a policeman from Tripura fired at a voter, leading to a skirmish between Communist Party of India (Marxist) top leaders, locals and police.
Though the 'wind of change' had gripped Bengal during 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the ruling Left Front is likely to regain some lost ground in the civic polls.
However, the Trinamool Congress is expected to do well in Kolkata, Salt Lake and some other municipalities in North 24-Parganas.
Text: Indrani Roy; Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
Image: West Bengal Chief Minister i Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee during the civic polls campaigning
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
Who will win the semi-final?
This year's civic polls are of great significance as they are often being portrayed as 'semi-final' to next year's West Bengal assembly elections. Since both the TC and the Congress decided to go it alone in these polls, the results will be a test of strength for both parties.
As for the Left Front, however, the future seems as bleak. A few days prior to the civic elections, the war of words arose between the Trinamool Congress and Congress started with the former unilaterally announcing its candidates for the KMC and offering the ally just 24 of the 141 wards.
The Congress had demanded 51 wards, including the ones where it either came first or second in the last KMC poll held in 2005.
The matter took an ugly turn with Banerjee even accusing the Congress of helping the CPI-M by dividing votes and took potshots by claiming that her party was not in the United Progressive Alliance at the 'mercy' of anyone, but on its own strength.
Image: Mamata Banerjee during the campaigning.
West Bengal polls pass off peacefully
The WBPCC chief, on the other hand, criticised the Trinamool chief for attempting to marginalise his party in the state.
During the last 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the two parties had dealt a severe blow to the Left Front bagging 25 out of the total 42 seats --- the Trinamool 19 and the Congress six.
Image: Pranab Mukherjee at a poll rally