Upbeat after the ruling Trinamool Congress made impressive gains in the civic polls in the West Bengal hills, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said a new era has started in the region after decades.
For the first time, the Trinamool managed to break the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's decade-long monopoly over the hills, as the State Election Commission announced the results of the May 14 civic polls.
The Trinamool captured the Mirik Notified area and picked up seats in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong municipalities.
Elsewhere in the state, the Trinamool virtually wiped out all opposition, by emerging triumphant in the Domkal, Raiganj and Pujali municipalities. The Congress-Left Front alliance and the Bharatiya Janata Party were decimated.
"Congratulations to Ma Mati Manush for again and again putting their trust in us. We are honoured, privileged and humbled," Banerjee said on Twitter.
She hailed the voters of Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong, Mirik for participating in the democratic process. "Special thanks to Mirik for reposing faith in us. We will work sincerely for you. After so many decades we begin a new era in the hills. The hills are smiling," added the Trinamool supremo.
Hailing the party's success in the hills, state Sports Minister Arup Biswas claimed that the state government's attempt to establish democracy in the hills has been fulfilled.
"Mamata Banerjee has been working for a long time to establish democracy in the hills. Her dream about the hills has been fulfilled today. Her biggest success is the establishment of a democratic environment in the hills for the first time since independence," said Biswas, who was in charge of party's civic poll campaign in the hills.
"The result in Mirik is a reflection of Mamata Banerjee's model of development in the hills. The people of Mirik had been neglected for a long time. There was no development in the region. People have voted for the Trinamool Congress to get the taste of development," he added.
However, Gorkha Janamukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung claimed there was a miscalculation in the counting of votes in Mirik and demanded a recount.
"Something went wrong in Mirik. The counting should have started at 8.30 a.m. but that did not happen. I have complained about it and demanded a recounting of votes. However, we will keep working to address whatever issues are there," Gurung said.
Talking about the GJM's success in Kalimpong and Darjeeling municipalities, Gurung said, "this is a victory of the common people."
Congress leader Manoj Chakraborty, however, claimed that the results did not reflect the people's will.
"Everybody has seen on television what all happened on the polling day. There was rampant terrorisation and intimidation of voters and opposition workers. Votes were looted by the Trinamool," he alleged.