Featured Image: Bengal State Election Commission office on Rawdon Street in central Kolkata.
By Our Newsmen
Kolkata / Siliguri, 03 September: THE civic polls in Bidhannagar (Salt Lake) and Asansol have once again been pushed into a cloud of uncertainty.
This after the Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) on Thursday went back at the last moment on its decision to issue a notification for the civic polls to Bidhannagar and Asansol municipal corporations.
The rethink came as the Trinamool Congress government is pushing hard for the polls to be held together with Howrah Municipal Corporation election which is entangled in legalities.
The SEC was to issue notifications today for elections to the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad and the Bidhannagar and Asansol municipal corporations to be held on 3 October as per an all-party meeting decision taken earlier. But the poll panel instead issued a notification for Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad alone.
State election commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhyay said that the government has issued four-five new orders on 1 and 2 September to remove the legal hindrances from the way of holding an immediate election to Howrah Municipal Corporation.
“The government wants the civic polls in Bidhannagar, Asansol and Howrah on the same date. We are assessing the legal validity of the new orders and would arrive at a conclusion by Saturday,” Mr Upadhyay said.
The poll panel chief today held a long meeting with the municipal affairs secretary BP Gopalika, its law officer and other senior officials discussing the matter.
According to Mr Upadhyay, the state has issued the orders under Section 90 of the West Bengal Municipal Election Act 1996, Section 219 of the Howrah Municipal Corporation Act 1980 and the Rule 5 of the West Bengal Reservation of Municipal Seat Rules.
The new orders have apparently removed the legal hindrances that cropped up following the reconstitution of the Howrah civic body by way of merging the erstwhile Bally Municipality into it.
The main trouble has been as regards the renumbering of the 16 wards of Bally after the merger with the 50 wards of Howrah and the identification of the wards that are to be reserved for women and SC/ST candidates.
The dispute had reached the Calcutta High Court last month but the Court has not barred the elections in Howrah, the poll commissioner maintained. “The plan is to hold the civic polls in Bidhannagar, Howrah and Asansol together on 3 October and this is still possible as we can issue the notification as late as on 9 September,” he said over the phone.
The Left parties, which today submitted a memorandum to Mr Upadhyay, however alleged that scared by the resurgent of the Opposition, the Trinamool government was looking for a pretext to delay the polls.
“We want the SEC to stick to its earlier decision of conducting the polls in Bidhannagar and Asansol on 3 October independent from that of Howrah,” said the head of the Left delegation Rabin Deb.
As regards, Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad polls, the last day for filing nominations is 10 September, scrutiny is 12 September and the last date for withdrawal of candidature is 15 September. The voting will take place from 7 am to 5 pm on 3 October. SEC will announce the counting date later.