By bappaditya paul
NINETY-ONE CIVIC BODIES in West Bengal, including the prestigious Siliguri Municipal Corporation, will go to polls on Saturday amidst allegations of strong-arm tactics flying thick and fast against the ruling Trinamul Congress. The voting will start at 7 am and continue up to 3 in the afternoon.
There are around 74 lakh electors who will exercise their franchise in 8,756 polling booths spread over 18 districts. The total number of municipal wards is 1,946; but voting will take place for 1,892 as 54 municipal wards have already been won uncontested, mostly by the ruling Trinamul Congress.
Bengal state election commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhaya said on Friday evening that about half of the polling booths are sensitive and the critical ones amongst them would be manned by one micro-observer each.
The Centre has sent 32 companies of paramilitary troops on the poll-eve and they would be deployed for poll duty in Siliguri, North and South Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad, Nadia and North 24-Parganas.
The 91 civic bodies (complete list below) where the elections will take place on Saturday, 23 are in North 24-Parganas, 13 in Hooghly, 8 in Nadia, 6 each in Murshidabad and West Midnapore, 5 in South 24-Parganas, 4 each in Cooch Behar, Burdwan and Birbhum, 3 each in East Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura, 2 each in Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur and Malda, and 1 each in Darjeeling, South Dinajpur and Howrah.
Trinamul Congress has already secured a majority in Arambagh and Tarakeswar municipalities in Hooghly and in Gayeshpur municipality in Nadia. The party won uncontested in 16 out of the 19 seats in Arambagh, 10 out the 15 seats in Tarakeswar and 17 out of the 18 seats in Gayeshpur after Opposition party candidates withdrew nominations allegedly in the face of Trinamul atrocities.
The Bengal State Election Commission has asked the district magistrates of 18 civic poll-bound districts to inform the Commission about the absence of polling agents of any political party in any of the polling booths during the elections tomorrow.
This apart the DMs have been asked to report about such booths where the number of tender (challenge) votes crosses 10 and the voters’ turnout goes up or down by 15 per cent of the average votes in a civic body.
The Commission will run a control room during the voting tomorrow whose numbers are ~ 033-2287-0522 /0553.
LIST OF POLL-BOUND CIVIC BODIES:
- COOCH BEHAR: Cooch Behar, Tufanganj, Dinhata, Mathabhanga.
- JALPAIGURI: Jalpaiguri, Mal.
- DARJEELING: Siliguri Municipal Corporation.
- NORTH DINAJPUR: Kaliaganj, Islampur.
- SOUTH DINAJPUR: Gangarampur.
- MALDA: English Bazar, Old Malda.
- MURSHIDABAD: Murshidabad, Jiaganj-Azimganj, Kandi, Jangipur, Dhulian, Beldanga.
- NADIA: Nabadwip, Santipur, Ranaghat, Birnagar, Kalyani, Gayeshpur, Taherpur Notified Area, Haringhata.
- NORTH 24-PARGANAS: Kanchrapara, Halisahar, Naihati, Bhatpara, Garulia, North Barrackpore, Barrackpore, New Barrackpore, Titagarh, Khardah, Kamarhati, Barahnagar, Dum Dum, North Dum Dum, South Dum Dum, Bongaon. Gobardanga, Barasat, Baduria, Basirhat, Taki, Ashokenagar-Kalyangarh, Madhyamgram.
- SOUTH 24-PARGANAS: Budge Budge, Baruipur, Maheshtala, Rajpur-Sonarpur, Joynagar-Mazilpur.
- HOWRAH: Uluberia.
- HOOGHLY: Hooghly-Chinsurah, Bansberia, Seerampore, Baidyabati, Champdani, Bhadreswar, Rishra, Konnagar, Arambagh, Uttarpara-Kotrung, Tarakeswar, Dankuni, Chandernagore Municipal Corporation.
- EAST MIDNAPORE: Tamralipta, Egra, Contai.
- WEST MIDNAPORE: Chandrakona, Ramjibanpur, Khirpai, Kharar, Kharagpur, Ghatal.
- PURULIA: Purulia, Jhalda, Raghunathpur.
- BANKURA: Bankura, Bishnupur, Sonamukhi.
- BURDWAN: Kalna, Katwa, Dainhat, Memari.
- BIRBHUM: Suri, Rampurhat, Sainthia, Bolpur.