Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dent

KOLKATA: Ma­mata Ban­er­jeee’s Tri­namool Congress was on course to score a thump­ing vic­tory in the vi­o­lence-rid­den ru­ral polls in West Ben­gal, the first re­sults showed on Thurs­day, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a dis­tant sec­ond, and the Left and the Congress vir­tu­ally wiped out in all three tiers of the pan­chayat struc­ture in the state.

The ru­ral polls are sig­nif­i­cant be­cause they are the last panben­gal elec­toral ex­er­cise be­fore the Lok Sabha elec­tions next year and their out­come would serve as a gauge of the sup­port base that the con­tes­tants have in the east­ern state.

The BJP is aim­ing to win at least 22 of the 42 seats that West Ben­gal fills in the Lok Sabha. Tri­namool supremo and West Ben­gal chief min­is­ter Ban­er­jee, who is try­ing to help form an anti-bjp front of re­gional par­ties ahead of the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, is look­ing to make it an op­po­si­tion-free state at ev­ery level. Until 8pm on Thurs­day, the rul­ing party had won 19,394 (68%) of the 28,456 gram pan­chayat seats for which re­sults had been de­clared. It had also bagged 1,842 (88.34%) of the 2,085 pan­chayat samiti seats and 62 of the 63 zilla par­ishad seats.

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