| Victory colours are smeared on the forehead of Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, the CPM's candidate for mayor, on Tuesday. Picture by Pabitra Das
Powered by the state government's industrialisation initiatives, the CPM-led Left Front wrested the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) on Tuesday, after a gap of five years.
'It will be unwise to attribute our success to the fragmentation of the Opposition,' said Anil Biswas, state CPM secretary. 'Our positive approach towards civic issues and thrust on the development of Calcutta have fetched us votes from various sections of society.'
According to Biswas, one of the main reasons behind the Left Front's success in Calcutta and Salt Lake was the support from voters belonging to the upper and upper-middle classes, who had not come forward in the 2000 elections.
'Our analysis is not yet ready, but we have reasons to believe that the upper class voted well for us,' Biswas said.
The Left Front annexed 75 wards ' four more than the required majority ' out of the 141 in the civic body. The elections were held on Sunday. The Left Front had won in 61 wards in the 2000 CMC election.
Having run the board for five years, Mamata Banerjee's Trinamul Congress trailed with 42 seats. Its ally, the BJP, won three seats. The parties will share the Opposition bench with the Congress, which won in 15 wards, and outgoing mayor Subrata Mukherjee's Unnayan Congress Mancha, which emerged victorious in six.
Mamata said on Tuesday that there would be a 'purification' drive in her party against 'traitors'. She claimed a realignment of the 'real anti-CPM forces' would take place before next year's Assembly elections.
Mamata also turned down Mukherjee's offer to join hands, saying 'he worked for the CPM'.
Tuesday's outcome was a dampener for both the Congress and former mayor Subrata Mukherjee, who parted company with Mamata on the election eve to form 'a mahajot of anti-CPM forces'.
Analysts said that the fight between Mamata's Trinamul and Mukherjee's Mancha benefited the CPM the most, enabling it to pocket at least four wards ' 15, 26, 40 and 64.
After being cold-shouldered by the Muslim voters in the 2001 Assembly and the 2004 Parliamentary elections, Trinamul appeared to have done well in the wards dominated by the minority community.
For example, in ward 66 (Mamata trailed there by 4,000 votes in 2004), Javed Khan posted a victory by 9,855 votes. In ward 63, Ajit Panja romped home on the strength of Muslim support.