Kolkata : Voting was held Sunday for 16 municipal bodies in West Bengal in polls seen as the first trial of strength between the ruling Left Front and the opposition Trinamool Congress and Congress combine after the Lok Sabha elections.
There were reports of a bombing at Maheshtala in South 24 Parganas during the polling, and a couple of policemen sustained injuries.
“Overall, the situation is peaceful in the 16 municipal areas. There have been only some minor incidents so far,” said state election commissioner Meera Pandey.
Barely six weeks after its debacle in the parliamentary elections, the municipal polls have presented an opportunity to the ruling front to assess whether it has been able to regain any lost ground, while for the opposition they are a chance to consolidate the gains.
In the April-May Lok Sabha elections, the Congress-Trinamool-Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) alliance bagged 26 of the state’s 42 seats, while the Left Front got only 15.
The Left controls 11 of the 16 municipalities in 10 districts, but going by the Lok Sabha results it will be a tough ask for the ruling alliance to retain its strength.
Of the municipalities, 12 are in the southern part of the state, where the Trinamool is strong, and the four others are in the north where the Congress is the main challenger to the front.
Congress runs three of the municipalities, while Trinamool is in power in one.
But what may be heartening to the Left Front is the inability of the Trinamool-Congress to forge a united front in several municipalities. While both parties are fighting it separately in three of the local bodies, they have also pitted candidates against each other in several wards.