Category Archives: Election

In head-on fight with dev plank, Gorkhaland sentiment wins again in Darjeeling Hills

By BAPPADITYA PAUL

NOTWITHSTANDING the extensive campaign for months by several ministers, Darjeeling Hills have remained out of bound for Trinamool in the civic polls, the counting votes for which took place today, 17 May.

The results have reaffirmed that when it comes to choosing between development and Gorkhaland statehood sentiment, people in the Hills prefer to be emotive than clever.

This is despite the fact that Trinamool government had pumped in crores of rupees through 15 development boards formed for various ethnic groups in the Hills, and also contested the municipal elections in alliance with Gorkha National Liberation Front that had waged the first bout of Gorkhaland Movement between 1986 and 1988.

Mamata Banerjee’s party has, however, succeeded to germinate its seed by capturing the Mirik civic body that was part of Siliguri Assembly constituency until 2011 when delimitation relocated it under the Kurseong Assembly segment.

Trinamool has also won a handful of seats in Darjeeling, Kurseong, and Kalimpong municipalities. In that sense, it is for the first time in 28 years since 1989 that a political party from the plains has managed to get a toehold in the Hills. Before the first Gorkhaland Movement breaking out in 1986, CPI-M and Congress used to have a sound electoral presence in the Hills.

Going by the overall results of the civic polls, out of the 32 seats in Darjeeling Municipality, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has won 31 and Trinamool 1. In Kurseong out of the 20 seats, GJM has won 17 and Trinamool 3; and at Kalimpong, out of the 23 seats, GJM has captured 19, Trinamool 2, and Jan Andolan Party of ex-GJM leader Harka Bahadur Chhetri 2.

As regards Mirik civic body, out of the 9 seats, Trinamool has wrested 6, and GJM 3. When civic elections were held in Darjeeling Hills last time in 2012, GJM had pocketed Darjeeling, Kurseong, and Kalimpong municipalities uncontested, but in Mirik it had to suffer defeat to Independent candidates backed by the CPI-M in two seats.

In this civic election, a combination of factors has acted in favour of Trinamool in Mirik. First, Trinamool government made Mirik a sub-division only about a month before the elections. Second, in as many as 7 wards, the government gave land rights to hundreds of landless families.

Last but not the least, due to being part of Siliguri Assembly segment until 2011, CPI-M used to give a special attention on Mirik and maintain a sound organisation keeping the practice of political fight alive. This made Mirik not to succumb to the monopoly of GJM in 2012, and now in 2017, it has make Mirik align with the Trinamool.

(Author is editor, NEWSMEN, Kolkata. This report first appeared on www.newsmen.in on 17 May 2017.)

 

Advertisements

First time in Manipur’s electoral history, a Bengali wins Assembly poll

By Bappaditya Paul

IN Manipur’s electoral history, a Bengali candidate has for the first time won in an Assembly poll in the tiny state dominated by Manipuris and tribal communities.

Ashab Uddin (51), a full-time social worker who survives on his family’s agricultural income, has won from the Jiribam Assembly constituency bordering the Bengali-dominated Barak Valley in Assam.

Ashab has defeated outgoing Congress MLA and former minister T Debendra Singh by 1,650 votes. In the constituency of 28,140 voters, Ashab has secured 8,189 votes to register victory. The results of the Assembly elections, held in Manipur in two phases on 04 and 08 March, were declared today.

What is more important is that, this man of medium built and moderate height contested the elections as an Independent candidate and practically on donations from common Bengalis living in Jiribam.

Jiribam is the only Assembly segment, out of the total 60 in Manipur, which is inhabited by Bengalis and the sizeable amongst them are Muslim by religion. Despite this, no mainstream political parties ever gave nomination to a Bengali to contest the Assembly poll there.

This is because of an undercurrent of anti-Bengali sentiment that is widespread in Manipur. Thus, for years, the Bengalis in Jiribim rallied behind the Congress whom they found a little sympathising, notwithstanding the overt jingoism that has been in play in Manipur.

But alleging that they have been a neglected lot despite extending support to Congress year after year, the Bengalis of Jiribam this time decided to take a plunge into the election and fielded Ashab Uddin as their unanimous Independent candidate.

A local voluntary organisation, Bengali Samaj Unnyan Sangstha, played crucial role in unifying the community for the elections. But it has not been a smooth sail. During the campaign, a public meeting was planned for Ashab at a playground in Jiribam and was scheduled to be addressed by Bengali leaders from Silchar and other parts of Barak Valley.

Manipur administration declined permission for the same citing law and order issues. This made Ashab and his supporters to fall back on street corner meetings and door to door to campaign. Now, these seems to have worked more for him than the public gathering could have.

(Author is editor, NEWSMEN, Kolkata. This report first appeared on www.newsmen.in on 11 March 2017.)

 

‘Trinamool can never be an alternative to progressive Left movement in Bengal’

By bappaditya paul

THE alliance of CPI-M’s Students’ Federation of India and CPI-ML Liberation’s All India Students’ Association on Saturday swept the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) elections by winning all the four top seats.

Among the winners is a Bong ~ Satarupa Chakraborty ~ who has been elected the new general secretary of JNUSU. She defeated Vijay Kumar of BJP’s Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad by 1,094 votes.

There is an added dimension to Satarupa’s identity: she hails from Karimganj town in Barak Valley, where people became martyrs in the 1961 and after in opposing the imposition of Assamese language on them and upholding the right to study their mother tongue Bengali.

There is another aspect that needs a mention. Satarupa comes from Barak Valley where Left politics have been elbowed to a marginal corner for over three decades now.

No wonder, Satarupa’s father Sankarjyoti Chakraborty, is far from being jubilant by the fact that his daughter from remote Karimganj has travelled this far to get elected a JNUSU office bearer.

“We are happy that she has won but I believe her focus should be on studies. We did not object to her getting into election as she told us that at JNU, student politics is part of education,” Sankarjyoti said over the phone.

NEWSMEN caught up with Satarupa on a telephonic interview for her reaction to the big win, the anxiety of her parents, and her future plans. Here are the excerpts:

How does it feel having got elected the general secretary of JNUSU?

There is nothing individual about it. It is the collective victory of the people who stood up against the #ShutDownJNU campaign of the BJP and joined the fight for #StandWithJNU.

But getting elected to the student union of India’s topmost university and that too when you belong to Barak Valley where Left has no strength, is remarkable. Isn’t that?  

Once the Left, in particular the CPI-M, used to have a robust presence in Barak Valley. Over time, the party has become frail there and after the demise of Nurul Huda last year; there is a crisis of leadership. But the Left politics there is not over.

How did you get drawn into Left politics?

I became a member of SFI in 2006 when I was studying XII at Karimganj College. But my association with Left politics became strengthened while I was pursuing masters at Hyderabad University in 2010-12.

Subsequently, I joined JNU in 2013 to pursue MPhil in philosophy and got elected the student convenor of School of Social Sciences at JNU last year. I learned a lot from the tumultuous days at JNU campus last winter; we were the ones who took lead in the protests when our fellow students were being branded “anti-nationals” and were being slapped with sedition charges.

Has your family been associated with Left politics?

Not exactly! My father was employed with LICI and had an inclination towards CPI-M but he never took part in active politics. This holds true for my homemaker mom, who is a native of Tripura where the party has been in power for over two decades now.

However, my elder brother Subhankar, who is pursuing research at National Institute of Advance Studies in Bangalore, is an active member of CPI-M and is into progressive movements.

What was your parents’ reaction to you participating in JNUSU polls?

They have been in anxiety ever since the turmoil broke out at the campus last year but they never stopped me from joining student movement. All they wanted me to is focus on studies alongside the campus politics.

Bengal, till the other day, was the strength of Left politics in India, and now even CPI-M MLA is switching over to Trinamool. Do you think, you people sweeping JNUSU polls will infuse some energy into Left politics there?

See, liberal thoughts and democratic movements across India is under attack from authoritarian power mongers, and West Bengal is not any better. In fact, Bengal has been ruined in the past few years: education sector has been ruined completely and people’s democratic rights are under suppression.

There have been mistakes on the part of the Left (in Bengal) but these can be rectified and will be rectified. Trinamool can never be an alternative to progressive Left movement that has been a tradition in Bengal.

What would be the focus of JNUSU now? Would it be any different from the policies that Kanhaiya Kumar pursued?

Despite some ideological differences, Kanhaiya Kumar and we belong to the same Left liberal politics. Hence, there will not be much change as far as the broad politics is concerned. However, as regards the campus politics, we would like to focus more on issues that students face at JNU day to day, such as hostel facilities, funds cut by the BJP-led Centre etc.

Outside the campus, we would continue to raise our voice against the way Centre is appointing ill-qualified people in academic institutes all over India, as has been in the case with FTTII Pune.

On the personal front, any plans to join active politics?

I am in the middle of my PhD in philosophy and would like to complete it first. At this point in time I am not sure about joining fulltime politics, but whatever I do and wherever I stay in future, I would continue to take part in progressive movements.

Would you like to pass on any message to the students in Barak Valley?

The people in Barak Valley are not getting exposed to the kind of student politics that are vibrant in the campuses all over India. There students are largely discouraged by parents and others from taking part in politics. This is even as the education scenario and the state of the campuses there are really pathetic.

Look at the Assam University in Silchar: it is plagued by so many problems. There is an inadequate hostel facility, frequent power cuts, and above all the quality of studies is deteriorating. Yet, students are not speaking up, they are not taking stands.

People in Barak Valley must recognise the fact that if students do not speak up for their rights, the region will continue to get neglected as always.

(Bappaditya Paul is editor NEWSMEN. This interview first appeared on NEWSMEN on 11 September 2016.)

Ashok Model costs Left Front dearly in Bengal Assembly polls

By bappaditya paul

HE is the one who by forging an informal tie-up with the Congress had turned the electoral tide against the Trinamool in two subsequent local body elections in Siliguri.

The experiment was such a runway hit that popular media lost no time in naming it Asok Model, and eventually the state level leadership of the Left Front replicated the same for this Assembly polls by entering into a state-wide electoral understanding with the Congress.

But notwithstanding the fact that CPI-M heavyweight Asok Bhattacharya has won from the Siliguri Assembly seat, the Asok Model has failed to leave a mark in this state Assembly polls.

It is not only that the Left-Congress alliance has failed miserably in south Bengal, where the Trinamool Congress has been on a strong wicket since 2008. In north Bengal too, which has been traditionally the stronghold for the Left and the Congress, Asok Model has failed to yield the desired result.

So much so that the out of the 76 seats that are there in the seven north Bengal districts along with Murshidabad, the Left has won only in 13 seats. The Left has been electorally wiped out in the districts of Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri districts.

In contrast, Congress has been able to win as many as 29 seats, emerging as the strongest party in north Bengal-Musrshidabad region. Trinamool has come out close second by winning 28 seats, albeit the ruling party has failed to open an account in Malda.

Moreover, BJP too seems to have made the most of the situation by winning two seats in north Bengal ~ Madarihat in Alipurduar and Baishabnagar in Malda.

Thus the region has greatly contributed to the BJP overall state tally of three wins; the saffron party’s third win has come from Kharagpur Sadar in West Midnapore where its state president Dilip Ghosh has won. Overall, BJP’s vote share in the state stands at 10.2 per cent as compared to the 17 per cent votes that it had managed in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

BJP’s ally, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has retained the control over the Darjeeling Hills by retaining all the three Assembly seats there. Notably, Harka Bahadur Chhetri, who had rebelled out from Morcha, has lost at Kalimpong Assembly segment.

The setback for the Left this election is very acute: its overall tally has come down to 33 seats (including one Independent that it had backed at English Bazar in Malda) from the 62 seats that it had managed during the Parivartan storm in 2011. Left’s vote share now stands reduced to 25.9 per cent.

This apart, most of the senior leaders of the Left Front, including state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra has lost the election. The notable exceptions, other than Ashok Bhattacharya is Siliguri, are Anisur Rehman at Domkal in Murshidabad, Biswanath Choudhury at Balurghat in South Dinajpur, and Sujan Chakraborty at Jadavpur in Kolkata.

Congress, on the other hand, has improved its tally to 44 seats in the state from the 42 seats that it had won in the 2011 Assembly polls. Congress vote share this Assembly polls stands at 12.3 per cent.

Thanks to the active support of Left cadres, several senior Congress leaders such as Manas Bhuniya, Abdul Mannan, Manoj Chakraborty, Shankar Malakar, Sukhbilas Burma and others have registered a victory despite the state-wide landslide victory for the Trinamool.

Contesting the polls alone, Trinamool has won 211 seats out of the 294 Assembly seats that are there in the state. Its vote share now stands at 44.9 per cent, which is about 5 per cent jump than what the party had got in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Against this, the cumulative vote share of the Left-Congress alliance stands at 38.2 per cent.

Notwithstanding the corruption charges brought forth by the Naradanews Sting Operation, Vivekananda Road Flyover collapse, and the links with real-estate syndicates, Trinamool has won all the 11 Assembly seats that are there in the Kolkata administrative district.

(Bappaditya Paul is editor of NEWSMEN. This report fist appeared on NEWSMEN on 20 May 2016.) 

EC for lab test of Trinamool Naradanews sting video

By bappaditya paul

ELECTION Commission of India (EC) has decided to get examined the video footage of the naradanews.com sting operation wherein several Trinamool Congress leaders are seen taking bribe.

“This (CD of the sting video) has been given to us and this will be passed on to an appropriate authority for examination,” Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi told a news conference in Kolkata this afternoon when reporters asked if the EC was contemplating any action on the exposé.

Zaidi’s colleague in the three member EC bench, Election Commissioner A K Jyoti explained that the bench had very little time to pursue the CD that was handed over to them by the Opposition political parties last evening.

“We cannot immediately react because we have not seen anything yet. The Commission will get it examined,” Jyoti said.

Neither Jyoti nor Zaidi clarified as to which is the “appropriate authority” that the EC would send the sting video for examination and what would be the deadline. They were also silent on the Opposition’s demand that those captured in the video as accepting bribe be barred from contesting the Bengal Assembly elections.

Highly placed sources in the EC said that the Commission was first likely to send the video to a Central forensic laboratory to verify the genuineness of the footages. If the footages are found genuine, the matter would then be referred to the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the Income Tax (I-T) department to trace the money trail of the bribe received.

EC, on its own, does not have any plan to refer the investigation to the CBI. But the DRI and the I-T department can subsequently rope in the CBI into the investigation.

This was on a day the BJP took out a protest march from its state headquarters to Dorina Crossing at Esplanade where the party activists jostled with police. Later a BJP delegation called on Governor K N Tripathi at Raj Bhavan and served him a memorandum demanding strict action against the Trinamool leaders shown in the sting video.  

The Left and the Congress too today hit the streets of Kolkata demanding immediate arrest of the Trinamool leaders captured in the sting operation.   

(Bappaditya Paul is editor NEWSMEN. This report first appeared on NEWSMEN on 15 March 2016.)

Central troops for all Bengal poll booths in 2016 Assembly polls

Election Commission Kolkata review meet

By bappaditya paul

EACH and every polling booth in West Bengal will be manned by Central troops during the Assembly elections in the state next year and the state police shall have no role to play in the polling premises, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi said in Kolkata today.

This is to negate the possibility of bias on the part of the state police, an allegation that has been widespread in the civic and panchayat polls held in Bengal in recent times.

“There will be 100 per cent deployment of Central armed forces. We will ensure Central armed personnel in each and every booth. Central troops will also be engaged in area domination exercise; there will be at least 2/3 layers of security cover and arrangements to ensure that voters can come out and exercise their votes without fear,” Zaidi told a news conference this evening.

“The Election Commission and its observers drawn from outside the state, will supervise, deploy and monitor the booth-wise and personnel-wise deployment of the Central forces,” he said hinting at curtailing the role of district superintendents of police, who usually chalk out the deployment plan.

As of now, there are 77,000-odd polling booths in Bengal, and the number may go up by a few more hundreds when the ECI undertakes a booth rationalisation exercise early next year.

The three-member ECI full bench, comprising CEC Zaidi and Election Commissioners A K Jyoti and O P Rawat, was in Kolkata today holding the first review meeting for the Bengal Assembly elections tentatively scheduled for April-May next year.

Zaidi said that the Central troops would be sent to Bengal for the polls “well in advance.” Representatives of all the Opposition political parties, who called on the ECI bench at the Lalit Great Eastern Hotel in central Kolkata during the day, demanded that Central troops be sent to West Bengal at least two months in advance.

Faced with barrage of complaints of bias against several bureaucrats and senior police officers in the state, the CEC made it clear that ECI has zero tolerance for such tendency.

“All officers in the state, who will be involved in the election process, have been asked to be fair and impartial,” he said adding that, ECI would review the performance and track records of bureaucrats and senior police officers in Bengal at a later stage to ensure that no biased officers are involved in the poll process.

Zaidi informed that around 31 lakh people had applied for enrolment of names in the voter list in Bengal in the annual roll revision and 26 lakh of them have been accepted.

“The applicants who have been rejected for want of valid documents etc will be able to seek redress once the final roll is published on 05 January,” he said. The redress can be availed under the continuous update process of electoral roll at the DM or SDO offices.

(Bappaditya Paul is editor, NEWSMEN This report first appeared in the NEWSMEN on 10 December 2015.)

One year 75 days turbulent tenure that Sushanta Ranjan Upadhaya had as Bengal election commissioner

S R Upadhyay

By bappaditya paul

SUSHANTA Ranjan Upadhaya, the 62-year old frail man, who stepped down as Bengal state election commissioner on Tuesday evening, have had a turbulent tenure during the 1 year 2 months 15 days that he remained in the chair.

Upadhaya, a 1980 batch West Bengal Civil Service (Executive) officer, had taken over as the state election commissioner on 21 July 2014, a day after firebrand Mira Pande had exhausted her term.

Upadhaya, was the first WBCS cadre to be made the poll commissioner, a post that had all along been occupied by IAS officers ever since the West Bengal State Election Commission came into being in 1994. He had served in the Raj Bhavan secretariat from 2001 to 2014, till he was appointed the poll panel chief.

On the first day in office, Upadhaya had told journalists that he does not “want to fight with anybody” and “would like to sort out all issues with the state government amicably.”

This was in marked departure from the stand that his predecessor Pande had taken in order to hold timely elections and ensure deployment of Central forces for panchayat polls against the wish of the Mamata Banerjee government.

As a result, Upadhaya has from day one been accused for surrendering to the state government and lacking the mettle that is expected of a person holding a Constitutional position of the poll commissioner.

In fact as if in verification of the accusation, he had withdrawn the litigation that Pande had filed in the Calcutta High Court for the conduct of elections to 17 civic bodies that Banerjee wanted to delay.

Subsequently, the election to Kolkata Municipal Corporation was held this year on 18 April and in another 91 civic bodies (including 10 out of the 17)  on 25 April, as per the wish of the state government.

Widespread rigging had marked that poll as well and on the face of severe criticisms from the Opposition and the media, Upadhaya was so upset that he had actually decided to step down immediately after the vote counting on 28 April.

On that occasion, he backed off following the persuasion by a very senior officer of the state government, who had advised him to ignore such criticisms.

But after what happened on Monday, Upadhaya, who is a native of Chandannagore in Hooghly, could not take it anymore.

On Monday, a delegation of the ruling Trinamool Congress leaders led by party secretary general Partha Chatterjee was in his chamber for about four hours till afternoon, pressing for a new counting date for the Bidhannagar (Salt Lake), Bally and Asansol civic polls which Upadhaya had put off so to probe all allegations of rigging.

Chatterjee had told reporters that the party would hold a protest march to the SEC office on Tuesday if the poll panel did not announce a new counting date by then. Barely three hours after this, Upadhaya told a news conference that the civic polls counting would be held on Friday 09 October, which was a dramatic U-turn from his previous stand.

Asked about the reason for his resignation, Upadhaya said tonight: “I had to announce the new counting date after a Trinamool delegation came to me for the second time around 8 pm on Monday and demanded that we announce a new date at once. No political party or for that matter anybody, should compel a Constitutional body to take a decision under pressure.”

In close circles, Upadhaya has said that he could not withstand the “humiliation and pressure” that he had to face on Monday and made up his mind to step down in the night itself.

A thorough gentleman, he communicated this to a senior officer on Tuesday morning so to allow the state government prepare to tackle the exigency. He walked out from his official quarter at the Raj Bhavan complex in the afternoon and submitted his resignation to Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi.

Upadhaya now plans to lead a leisure life at his native place, since whoever becomes the poll commissioner, is deemed to be have retired from active civil service even if the person had not turned 60 years.

Moreover, Upadhaya had exhausted his service tenure in 2013 itself and was serving Raj Bhavan on extension as an officer on special duty.

(Bappaditya Paul is editor of NEWSMEN, West Bengal, India. This article first appeared on www.newsmen.in on 06 October 2015.) 

No NOTA for 3 Oct civic polls in Bengal but EVMs first time for rural elections

Featured Image: The official NOTA symbol designed by National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and released on 18 September 2015. Photo courtesy: Nizil Shah on wikipedia
Featured Image: The official NOTA symbol designed by National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and released on 18 September 2015. Photo courtesy: Nizil Shah on wikipedia

By bappaditya paul

Kolkata, 23 September: VOTERS in Bengal will once again miss out on the option to press the None of the Above (NOTA) button during the 3 October civic polls in three urban bodies and the Siliguri rural polls.

This is because Mamata Banerjee-led state government has not amended the related legislations to allow the state election commission (SEC) to introduce NOTA for local body polls. This is despite a brief session of the Bengal Assembly presently being underway since 18 September.

The SEC will however, for the first time, put to use electronic voting machines (EVM) for rural polls in the state during Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad elections and the panchayat by-polls elsewhere. Till now, the use of EVM was limited to Assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

“In response to our latest reminder, state panchayat department wrote to us about 20 days ago saying, the government was unable to amend the Panchayat Election Rules and hence NOTA option would not be available for the coming polls,” said Bengal state election commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhyay.

“We had sent a similar reminder to the municipal affairs department but are yet to get a reply.”

Upadhayay added that in response to a query, Election Commission of India has replied that it had introduced NOTA from the 2014 Lok Sabha polls following a Supreme Court order in 2013 and it did not require an amendment to Central election laws because of the SC ruling.

“But we cannot do so without the panchayat and municipal election rules being amended. Not only Bengal, several other states have failed to do this so far,” he said.

To bring in NOTA option, amendments are necessary to the West Bengal Municipalities (Conduct of Elections) Rules, 1995, and the West Bengal Panchayat Elections Rules, 2006.

Thus, the civic polls voters at Bidhannagar-Rajarhat, Bally, Asansol and the rural poll voters in Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad on 3 October will either have to choose a candidate or abstain from voting altogether.

Notwithstanding the upset over NOTA, SEC’s move to use EVMs for rural polls will be a big relief for voters in 520 booths in Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad elections and in another 1,111 booths for the panchayat by-polls elsewhere in the state. This will reducing the time taken in casting a vote and also expedite the vote counting scheduled for 7 October.

SEC has around 25,000 EVMs and a part of them will be used for the 3 October polls.

(Bappaditya Paul is editor of NEWSMEN, West Bengal, India. This article first appeared on www.newsmen.in on 23 September 2015.) 

Supreme Court to take call on polls to 7 Bengal civic bodies

MAMATA GOVT’S PLEA AGAINST CALCUTTA HC ORDER FOR POLLS BY 16 JUNE TO BE HEARD TUESDAY 

Supreme Court of India.
Supreme Court of India.

By bappaditya paul

WEST BENGAL GOVERNMENT on Monday filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court seeking a stay on Calcutta High Court’s 16 April directive wherein it had ordered elections to seven civic bodies in the state by 16 June.

This after a division bench of Calcutta High Court headed by Chief Justice Manjula Chellur last Friday rejected a state government plea for more time to hold the polls.

According to Bengal municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim, the Apex Court has listed the SLP for hearing on Tuesday. Coinciding this, the Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) has convened a meeting at 3 pm tomorrow with the DMs, SPs and Police Commissioners of the civic poll-bound districts to discuss poll preparations.

The SLP was today filed on a day the Bengal poll commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhaya told an all-party meeting that the notification for elections to the seven civic bodies would be issued on 20 May and the elections would be held on 14 June in pursuance of the 16 June deadline fixed by the High Court.

The seven civic bodies in question are ~ Asansol, Raniganj, Jamuria, Kulti, Bally, Rajarhat-Gopalpur and Bidhannagar. Of them, while the elections to first five civic bodies are long overdue; in case of Rajarhat-Gopalpur and Bidhannagar the current boards would exhaust their term in June.

Going by Section 36 (3) of the West Bengal Municipal Elections Act of 1994 and Section 8 of the West Bengal State Election Commission Act of 1994, state government should first notify the poll date and this has to be followed with a matching notification from the SEC detailing the entire election schedule.

In this case, the SEC can straightway notify the poll schedule citing the High Court directive, an election expert said.

But whether the poll panel will finally issue a poll notification bypassing the state government would depend on the outcome of the Supreme Court proceedings on Tuesday.

Siliguri dampener in Trinamul’s civic polls sweep

OF 92 CIVIC BODIES, TRINAMUL WINS 70, LEFT 4, CONG 5, 13 HUNG

File photo
File photo

By bappaditya paul

THE OUTCOME OF Siliguri Municipal Corporation polls today came as a huge dampener for Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamul Congress on a day the party, as expected, swept the civic elections in Bengal winning 70 of the 92 civic bodies that had gone to ballots.

The elections for Kolkata Municipal Corporation were held on 18 April and in another 91 civic bodies the polls took place on 25 April. The results were declared today.

In Kolkata, Trinamul has won 114 of the 144 seats as compared to the 95 wards it had won in 2010. Left Front’s tally has come down to 15 from previous 33, Congress is down to 5 from previous 10; while the BJP has risen to 7 from the 3 wards it had earlier. Three Independent candidates have also registered victory this time.

But Trinamul’s victory march has come to a grinding halt in Siliguri in northern Bengal, where the Left Front has wrested 23 of the 47 seats; Trinamul has come second with 17 seats, followed by Congress 4, BJP 2 and 1 Independent (rebel Trinamul). Left is likely to form the civic board in Siliguri with the backing of the Independent.

This apart, Trinamul has suffered a setback in Mamata Banerjee’s Assembly constituency Bhowanipore in Kolkata, where the Trinamul ruled KMC’s outgoing chairman Sachidananda Banerjee has lost to BJP candidate in ward 70.

Again, the outgoing Trinamul deputy Mayor of KMC, Farzana Alam, has lost to the CPI-M in ward 65, and Trinamul strongman and MLA Paresh Pal has suffered a defeat at the hands of the Congress in ward 29.

Rupa Gagchi, CPM. Photo courtesy ~ ABP Ananda
Rupa Bagchi, CPM. Photo courtesy ~ ABP Ananda

The major upsets in the Opposition camp include, the Left’s Leader of Opposition in outgoing KMC board, Rupa Bagchi, getting defeated by Trinamul in ward 32 and veteran CPI-M leader former MP, Sudhangshu Sil, losing to Congress candidate in ward 20.

Going by the overall results, out of the total 92 civic bodies, Trinamul has won 70, Left 4, Congress 5 and 13 civic bodies have got a fractured mandate (List below). Notwithstanding the pre-election buzz, BJP has not been able to win majority in even a single civic body although the party has increased the number municipal seats in its kitty.

EVM glitch has held up the counting for two wards in Murshidabad and one ward each in Raghunathpur and Madhyamgram but the state election commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhaya said that their outcome would not alter the status of the majority party in these municipalities.

During the elections on 18 and 25 April, there were allegations of violence and massive electoral malpractices by the ruling Trinamul Congress. Local television channels had in fact telecast multiple footage of gun-wielding miscreants targeting Opposition political workers, voters and media persons on the poll days.

PARTY / ALLIANCE WISE WINNING BREAK-UP

  • TRINAMUL: Kolkata Municipal Corporation, Tufanganj, Mathabhanga, Jalpaiguri, Mal, Gangarampur, English Bazar, Nabadwip, Santipur, Ranaghat, Birnagar, Kalyani, Gayeshpur, Haringhata, 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, Ashokenagar-Kalyangarh, Madhyamgram, Budge Budge, Baruipur, Maheshtala, Rajpur-Sonarpur, Uluberia. Hooghly-Chinsurah, Bansberia, Seerampore, Baidyabati, Champdani, Rishra, Konnagar, Arambagh, Uttarpara-Kotrung, Tarakeswar, Dankuni, Chandernagore Municipal Corporation, Tamralipta, Egra, Contai, Chandrakona, Khirpai, Kharar, Ghatal, Purulia, Raghunathpur, Bishnupur, Sonamukhi, Kalna, Memari. Suri, Rampurhat, Sainthia and Bolpur.
  • LEFT: Dinhata, Jangipur, Taherpur Notified Area and Dainhat.
  • CONGRESS: Kaliaganj, Islampur, Murshidabad, Kandi and Jhalda.
  •  HUNG: Siliguri, Cooch Behar, Old Malda, Jiaganj-Azimganj, Dhulian, Beldanga, Taki, Joynagar-Mozilpur, Bhadreswar, Ramjibanpur, Kharagpur, Bankura and Katwa.