The West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC), in accordance with the date fixed by the state government, Monday issued notification for holding the 144-ward Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) election on April 18.
As per the notification, the last date of filing nominations is March 23, while scrutiny will be held on March 24 and the last date for withdrawal of candidature is March 26. More than 37,42,000 electors will exercise their franchise at 4,704 polling stations. Counting will be held on April 28.
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State urban development and municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim said the state government had sent the poll notification to the SEC. He said the polling for the remaining 92 municipalities would take place on April 25, which would be notified later. Asked if the Opposition’s demand to defer the KMC polls in view of CBSE examinations was considered, he said, “Polls will be held on the scheduled date. There is no question of deferment”.
State election commission Susanta Ranjan Upadhyaya said he has asked for 50 companies of central forces for the election.
Leaders of Opposition parties, however, apprehend trouble during the polls, which is being seen as a litmus test for the ruling TMC ahead of next year’s Assembly elections.
“We have our doubts that it (polls) would be peaceful. We can only appeal to the SEC to ensure free and fair polls,” said state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.
BJP leaders, too, said they are anticipating trouble. “BJP is prepared to go to polls but it is true that the TMC would go all out to prevent voters from reaching the booths. Though the law and order situation has completely failed in state, my appeal to voters is to go and exercise their franchise and not to let terror overshadow democracy,” said BJP national secretary and observer for Bengal, Siddharth Nath Singh.