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Kolkata civic polls on Dec 19, to see another BJP-TMC face-off

The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) polls will be held on December 19, a notification issued by the State Election Commission (SEC) on Thursday said.

IMAGE: Banners put up by the TMC and the BJP in Kolkata. Photograph: Saikat Paul/ANI Photo

The stage is now set for a litmus test for the ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party on whether they have been able to hold on to their ground or increase their support base among urban voters since the assembly elections seven months ago.

 

The TMC had swept all the 16 assembly segments in Kolkata in the last election.

The counting of votes polled in the 144 wards of the civic body is likely to be held on December 21, State Election Commissioner Saurav Das said.

“The KMC elections will be held on December 19 and the counting is likely to take place on December 21. We will issue a separate notification for that. The entire polling process has to be completed by December 22. From today onwards, the Model Code of Conduct is implemented,” Das told reporters.

A total of 40,48,352 voters are eligible to cast their votes.

“There will be 4,742 polling booths. The filing of nomination starts from today and will continue till December 1. The last date for withdrawal of candidatures is December 4. The polling and election campaign will take place adhering to all COVID protocols,” he said.

Das said that discussions are on with the DGP and the Kolkata Police Commissioner regarding the deployment of security forces.

When asked whether the SEC will seek deployment of the central forces, Das said he can comment on it only after going through the security plan submitted by the police forces in the state.

The elections to KMC, along with 112 other municipalities and municipal corporations, were due in April-May 2020. But the polls were postponed due to the raging COVID pandemic.

For the time being, the state government has decided to conduct the KMC polls.

These civic bodies are now being run by a state-appointed Board of Administrators.

Former mayor of Kolkata and present Chairman of the Board of Administrators, Firhad Hakim, welcomed the notification and said the party is ready to contest the polls.

“We are ready for the elections and are confident of winning the KMC for the third consecutive time. With the kind of development that our party has done in the last 11 years, we are confident of bagging the majority of the seats,” he said.

The opposition BJP, Congress and the Left Front demanded that elections to all the civic bodies be held together.

“We want that election to the civic bodies be held together. The state government had been delaying the elections for their political interests, and later they blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for it,” state BJP vice-president Pratap Banerjee said.

The Congress and the Left Front, which doesn’t have any representation in the state assembly, accused the state government of delaying the civic elections for political reasons.

“The state government has no proper explanation on why it is delaying the civic elections to other municipal bodies. In areas where they are not on the strong ground politically, they are delaying the polls,” Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sujan Chakraborty said.

The KMC election comes just seven months after the assembly polls when the TMC stormed to power for the third consecutive time, bagging 213 of the 294 assembly seats in the state.

The BJP, despite its high-pitched campaign, managed to secure only 77 seats.

For the CPI(M)-led Left Front, the battle is to retain its main opposition status in the KMC.

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