December 07, 2021

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Uncertainty looms over civic polls in Kolkata and Howrah to be held next month

Uncertainty looms over civic polls in Kolkata and Howrah to be held next month

The Calcutta High Court, which was scheduled to hear the petition on holding simultaneous elections to all civic bodies in West Bengal on Wednesday, will take up the matter on November 29, even as uncertainty looms over the civic polls in Kolkata and Howrah to be held on December 19, a date initially proposed by the Mamata Banerjee-led administration.

Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Wednesday sent back the Howrah Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2021 seeking more details from the government.

“As regards Howrah Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2021 @MamataOfficial WB Governor Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar has sought further details for consideration of the same under Article 200 of the Constitution,” Dhankhar tweeted.

The amendment bill aims to carve out Bally Municipality in Howrah district from the jurisdiction of the Howrah Municipal Corporation.

Experts said that even though the Trinamool Congress (TMC)-ruled state government wanted to hold the civic polls in phases, starting with Kolkata and Howrah on December 19, the plan now seems uncertain. The state is considering holding the election only in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation on December 19

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“The court had said that elections should be held at the earliest. We are concerned with the delay. At present the daily count of Covid-19 cases have declined. Elections should be held at the earliest. The BJP knows that if elections are held, they will lose and hence has adopted delaying tactics,” said Firhad Hakim, state minister and senior TMC leader.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, had moved the high court demanding simultaneous elections to all civic bodies.

“There has to be a minimum gap of 24 days between the date of notification and holding polls. In that case if elections are to be held on December 19, the notification would have to be published on Thursday. We are taking legal opinion,” said a senior state government official.

Elections to 114 civic bodies are pending for more than a year. The TMC controls most of the civic bodies in West Bengal. The terms of the elected boards ended over two years ago, but polls were not held because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“The state government has to first notify. Once the state government comes up with the notification, we will also notify announcing the dates of the polls,” said a senior official of the state election commission.

The SEC had submitted an affidavit before the court earlier this week stating that it wants to hold elections to the municipal corporations of Kolkata and Howrah first as the number of double vaccinated people in these two cities is high. It said elections to the other municipal bodies in the state would be held in phases later.

“The BJP has moved the court with very obvious questions. Why should polls be held only in Howrah and Kolkata? Why other important municipalities like Siliguri, Asansol and Bidhan Nagar are being excluded?” said Samik Bhattacharya, BJP spokesperson.

Doonited Affiliated: Syndicate News Hunt

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