The growth of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the cost of the Left Front and the Congress continues unabated in West Bengal. While TMC’s seat share went up to 66% in the 2018 Bengal panchayat elections from 52% in 2013, the BJP’s share grew by 17% at the Gram Panchayat (GP) level in the three-tier rural polls. The seat share at the GP level provides a very clear picture of the political scene in rural Bengal where 74% of the State’s electorate reside. A similar trend was noticed in nearly all the recent elections and by-polls.The saffron party got a little over 1% seats in 2013 at the GP level. In this week’s panchayat elections, the BJP bagged more than 18% seats in an election process marred by violence. Even after the Opposition could not field a candidate in about one-third of the seats, the BJP’s vote share increased significantly. On the other hand, the Left Front’s seat share dropped noticeably.The Left Front got marginally over 32% seats in the panchayat polls of 2013 at the GP level, which was nearly a 20% drop from that in 2008. In 2018, the seat share has reached its nadir. The Left Front got 5% seats, according to the data released by the State Election Commission [SEC] on Friday night. The Congress’s seat share has come down to 3% from 11%.Infact, the seat share of the Independent candidates was more than the Left Front or the Congress at the GP level. The reason, as it appeared on Friday, is that the Independent candidates, who belong to the one or the other factions of the ruling party in most of the cases, have won in many seats defeating the “official” TMC candidate. Realising that many of the Independent candidates are affiliated to the TMC, party chief Mamata Banerjee indicated on Thursday that they will eventually be brought back to the party fold. However, Independent candidates defeating the Left and the Congress has been described as “a unique development” in Bengal politics.While BJP got 12% and 3.5% seats at the Panchayat Samity (PS) and Zilla Parishad (ZP) level respectively, the Left Front got 2% and less than 1% at the PS and ZP levels. The Congress, too, has nearly been decimated at PS and ZP level.