The Free Press Journal - - NATION -

The rul­ing Trinamool Congress on Thurs­day headed for a mas­sive vic­tory in West Ben­gal's ru­ral polls, bag­ging 20,441 seats in gram pan­chay­ats, while the BJP emerged as its main ri­val, ac­cord­ing to the re­sults de­clared till 10 pm.

State Elec­tion Com­mis­sion (SEC) sources said the TMC was ahead in an­other 315 gram pan­chayat seats for which count­ing was in progress.

The BJP has won 5,465 seats and is lead­ing in 28 seats, they said.

Ac­cord­ing to a se­nior state BJP leader, it was the first time in last 10 years that the party had been elected to the gram pan­chayat level in ev­ery dis­trict of the state.

The CPI(M) slipped to the third position from the sec­ond place it had oc­cu­pied in the last pan­chayat polls in 2013. It won 1,415 gram pan­chayat seats and was ahead in an­other 13, the sources said.

The Congress is at the fourth position by win­ning 993 seats and lead­ing in 13 – a score lower than that of even in­de­pen­dents, who won 1,741 gram pan­chayat seats and were lead­ing in 18 seats.

A ju­bi­lant TMC said the re­sult would boost the party ahead of next year's Lok Sabha elec­tion as the ru­ral poll was the last ma­jor elec­toral event in the state be­fore it.

The BJP said the re­sult in the three-tier pan­chayat polls, which saw its emer­gence as the main chal­lenger to the rul­ing TMC in Ben­gal, would act as a morale booster for the party's rank and file.

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