Covid surge in Bengal: BJP seeks postponement of 4 civic polls, Calcutta HC seeks clarity from poll panel

In the wake of the Covid-19 surge, BJP leaders in West Bengal have demanded that the four municipal elections to be held in the state be postponed by at least a month.

On December 27, the West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) announced that pending civic polls in Asansol, Bidhannagar, Siliguri and Chandannagar municipal corporations would be held on January 22.

Recently, Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) elections were held on 19 December. Addressing a press conference, State BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, “The COVID-19 cases are increasing rapidly in our state. Cases are increasing all over India and the situation is serious. Many government officials, police, health workers, doctors, party leaders are down with COVID-19. Political activists are facing difficulties in organizing campaign programmes. The Chief Minister himself said that the next 15 days are crucial and asked people to exercise extreme caution. In such a situation, it will be difficult to manage the voting process keeping in view the safety of the people. Hence, we would like to request the SEC and the state government to postpone the elections for at least one month.”

He said, “It is impossible to hold elections in four municipal corporations now. Therefore, we hope the SEC will consider our submissions; otherwise there will be a tsunami of cases in future.”

Based on some petitions seeking postponement of civic polls in Asansol, Bidhannagar, Siliguri and Chandannagar, the Calcutta High Court on January 11 has sought an explanation from the SEC in the matter.

Responding to BJP’s demand, TMC MP Saugata Roy said, “I have nothing to say as it is a matter of SEC. We are here to follow the directions and orders of the SEC.”

There are 47 wards in Siliguri Municipal Corporation and the number of polling stations will be 421. The total polling premises will be 150, where 4,02,895 people will exercise their franchise.

Chandannagar Municipal Corporation has 33 wards and 169 polling stations. The total polling premises will be 60, where 1,44,839 voters will exercise their franchise.

There are 41 wards and 468 polling stations in Vidhannagar Municipal Corporation. The total polling premises will be 194, where 4,46,640 voters will exercise their franchise.

Asansol Municipal Corporation has 106 wards and 1,020 polling stations. The total polling premises will be 480, where 9,42,088 people will vote.

On January 6, West Bengal’s Covid-19 tally rose to 16,93,744 with 15,421 new positive cases. The total active cases reported on January 6 stood at 41,101 while the death rate stood at 1.17 per cent.

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