November 10, 2021 4:30:33 am
EVEN AS the West Bengal State Election Commission (WBSEC) gave the go-ahead to the state government for holding civic polls to Kolkata Municipal Corporation and Howrah Municipal Corporation on December 19, the BJP on Tuesday moved the Calcutta High Court demanding simultaneous election to all civic bodies in the state.
The state government had recommended to the state election commission that election to Kolkata Municipal Corporation and Howrah Municipal Corporation be held on December 19. It was learnt on Tuesday that the state poll panel gave its approval to hold the polls on the said day and informed the state government about its decision.
Sources said a meeting of District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police and Police Commissioners of Howrah and Kolkata has been convened on November 12 at the office of state election commission and poll notification for the two civic bodies was likely to be issued on November 22.
The BJP, however, demanded that polls to all civic bodies where election is due should be held in February next year and under the security cover of central forces. State BJP vice-president Pratap Banerjee said the party has filed a petition in Calcutta High Court in this regard.
“We are concerned that if the civic polls are held under the supervision of state police and administration, it will not be free and fair election. Everyone knows how 2018 panchayat polls were held when a large number of people could not cast their votes while opposition candidates were beaten up and threatened by the Trinamool Congress. Besides the state government wants to influence the voters by this move. We have demanded that polls to all civic bodies be held in February and with central armed forces,” claimed Banerjee.
He also alleged that in the past 10 years under the TMC rule, not a single election was held in a free and fair manner. The matter is likely to be heard by the court on Thursday.
State BJP president Sukanta Majumder also demanded that election in municipalities and municipal corporations should be held at the same time.
“The state government has stalled these polls for a long time and had appointed administrators from its own camp to run the civic bodies. People had not been able to cast their votes as polls were not held. We want to know why polls were not held gor long and for what motive,” said Majumder.
TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said, “When the Election Commission of India decided to hold Assembly polls in West Bengal in eight phases then these people had no issues. Till now they have been saying why polls were not being held. Now when elections are being held, they are raising objections. The reality is that they have lost the support of the people and that’s why they are making such excuses.”
TMC general secretary Kunal Ghosh charged the BJP with double standards on the issue of holding polls in a single phase.
“When we were demanding single-phase assembly elections in West Bengal owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the BJP was gleefully supporting 8-phase polls. The Assembly elections were held under the suervision of central forces. Two rounds of by-elections were also conducted after that and the BJP lost miserably in all these elections,” Ghosh said.
The saffron party is staring at “sure defeat” in the municipal elections, and that is why it is making such demands to divert the attention of people, he claimed
State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said, “We want free and fair polls. We don’t want it to turn into a farce like the way it happened during 2018 panchayat polls. The big question is that will people be able to cast their votes without fear and intimidation.”
Senior CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty said, “We have been saying for years that polls to civic bodies should be held immediately. But it did not happen. We don’t want polls to take place separately.”
— with pti inputs
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