The counting of votes for the West Bengal panchayat polls is under way amid tight security, a day after repolling was held in over 690 booths. According to early trends, TMC is leading in 3,068 gram panchayat seats in West Bengal while the BJP is a distant second with leads in 1,151 seats as of 12.30pm, State Election Commission officials said. Counting of votes for the three-tier panchayat polls to nearly 74,000 seats is being held at 339 counting venues spread across 22 districts. The counting is expected to continue for two days, state election commission officials said on Tuesday.
As violence marred the polls during the campaign period and on voting day on July 10, all the counting venues are being manned by armed state police personnel and central forces, with prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC being imposed. The Calcutta High Court had ordered central forces to remain in the state for 10 days after counting day ton Tuesday to ensure safety of elected members. At least 15 people were killed in the violence on voting day, while ballot boxes were vandalised, ballot papers torched, and bombs thrown at rivals in several places. Of those killed, 11 were affiliated with the TMC, PTI reported.
West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose who has been actively involved in controlling poll violence in the state, visited counting centres in South 24 Parganas district to take stock of the situation. Tensions prevailed on Tuesday morning too, with reports of crude bombs being hurled outside a counting centre in Diamond Harbour. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted that 133 people who “feared for their lives” due to the poll violence in Bengal, have sought refuge in Assam’s Dhibri district.
In the 2018 rural polls, the ruling TMC had emerged victorious in 90 per cent of the panchayat seats. The elections were marred by widespread violence, with the opposition alleging they were prevented from filing nominations in several seats. In the 2018 polls, the TMC won unopposed in 34 seats.