Covid Surge in Bengal: BJP Demands 4 Civic Polls to be Postponed, Calcutta HC Seeks Clarity from Poll Panel

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

On December 27, the West Bengal state election commission (SEC) announced that the pending civic polls at Asansol, Bidhannagar, Siliguri and Chandannagar municipal corporations will be held on January 22.

Recently, on December 19, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) elections were held. Addressing a press conference, state BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, “The Covid-19 cases in our state are increasing exponentially. Cases are rising all across India and the situation is grim. Many government officials, police, health workers, doctors, party leaders are down with Covid-19. Political workers are facing difficulties in organising campaign events. The chief minister herself said the next 15 days are crucial and asked people to take utmost care. In such a situation, it will be difficult to manage the polling process considering the safety of people. Therefore, we would like to request the SEC and the state government to postpone the election for at least a month.”

He added, “It is impossible to hold elections in four municipal corporations now. Therefore, we are hopeful that the SEC will look into our pleas; otherwise, there will be a tsunami of cases in future.”

Based on a couple of petitions seeking to postpone civic polls in Asansol, Bidhannagar, Siliguri and Chandannagar, the Calcutta High Court has asked for a clarification from the SEC in the matter on January 11.

Responding to the BJP’s demand, TMC MP Saugata Roy said, “I have nothing to say because this is a matter of the SEC. We are here to abide by instructions and order of the SEC.”

In Siliguri Municipal Corporation, there are 47 wards and number of polling stations will be 421. Total polling premises will be 150, where 4,02,895 people will exercise their voting rights.

In Chandannagar Municipal Corporation, there are 33 wards and 169 polling stations. Total polling premises will be 60, where 1,44,839 voters will exercise their franchise.

In Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation, there are 41 wards and 468 polling stations. The total polling premises will be 194, where 4,46,640 electorates will exercise their voting rights.

In Asansol Municipal Corporation, there are 106 wards and 1,020 polling stations. Total polling premises will be 480, where 9,42,088 people will vote.

On January 6, West Bengal’s Covid-19 tally increased to 16,93,744 with 15,421 new positive cases. Total active cases reported as on January 6 were 41,101 while fatality rate was 1.17 per cent.

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