For Mamata, itís about holding fort
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The region voting on Wednesday, Kolkata and its neighbourhood, is potentially the key element in deciding the overall result in West Bengal. It is in this region, which accounts for more than a quarter of the state's 294 seats, where the wave of change has been most pronounced, with the Lok Sabha elections an indicator.
The Trinamool Congress and the Congress had led in 66 of the region's 75 Assembly segments, a performance far improved from the results of the 2006 Assembly polls when the two parties, contesting independently, had won just 23 of the then 77 seats.
In Kolkata itself, the Opposition led in all 11 segments. In 2006, when Kolkata had 21 seats, the Trinamool had won nine seats and the Congress three, with the Left winning the remaining nine.
If Kolkata still had 21 seats, the Opposition would have hoped to gain more. The reduction to 11 may look like a potential spoilsport for the Opposition, but it can still hope to make a decisive impact by replicating its performance in the rest of the region. Both sides will be aware that the Opposition led in 55 of the 64 segments in North and South 24-Parganas.
Another indicator of the Trinamool Congress's rising graph is its victory in the elections to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and most of he municipal bodies in North 24-Parganas. In South 24-Parganas, too, the Trinamool Congress has wrested the zilla parishad and most panchayats from the Left Front. Its performance in these elected bodies could sway voters either way.
The Trinamool has kept 71 of the 75 seats for itself. The Congress has been given only two, Canning and Baduria, and the SUCI has got the other two, Joynagar and Kultali. In a few of these seats, dissident Congress candidates have jumped into the fray, causing the Trinamool a few minor headaches.