IN THE rapidly shifting sands of West Bengal politics, Sunday’s elections in seven municipalities is likely to set the ground for the 2018 panchayat and Lok Sabha elections the next year.A number of factors are at play in the municipal polls. The Darjeeling hills — municipalities of Darjeeling town, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Mirik will vote on Sunday — will show whether the GJM has been able to turn around its declining popularity and halt Trinamool Congress’ march in North Bengal.
So far, the hills have eluded Trinamool. If the ruling party or for that matter any non-Gorkha party manages to win even a single seat, it will be representative of a larger shift in hill politics — from regional to state. While the polls in the hills are significant, it is in the three municipalities in the plains where the battle is likely to be the bloodiest.
While Domkal in Murshidabad is a newly formed constituency, even as a gram panchayat, it has always been a Congress bastion, falling in state party president Adhir Chowdhury’s stronghold of Murshidabad. Raiganj in North Dinajpur, which has sent to CPM Politburo member Mohammad Salim to the Lok Sabha, is also traditionally a Congress stronghold. The scenario is same for Pujali in South-24 Paraganas.