Siliguri, Aug. 28: The Trinamul Congress is faced with the challenge of proving its support base in the urban areas of north Bengal as the party is gearing up for the polls to five municipalities.
After winning the zilla parishads of Cooch Behar and South Dinajpur and a number of seats in the upper tier of the rural administration in Malda and North Dinajpur in the recent polls, Trinamul is trying to replicate the story in the elections to the civic bodies.
Polls will be held to the municipalities of Mekhliganj, Haldibari (both in Cooch Behar district), Alipurduar (Jalpaiguri), Dalkhola (North Dinajpur) and Balurghat (South Dinajpur) on September 21. While Haldibari, Alipurduar and Dalkhola are held by the Congress at present, the rest are with the Left.
“Preparations for the civic polls are on. Our party workers and leaders are busy in pre-poll works. We have pitted candidates in all seats across the five civic bodies. Our campaign would be on the agenda of development and we will promise to resolve all civic issues plaguing the small and medium towns,” said minister Gautam Deb, who is also the chairman of the north Bengal core committee of Trinamul.
“In the past five years, Bengal has gone through radical changes. Lakhs of people have joined our party and brought the Trinamul government in the state. We are putting all efforts to bag the majority of the seats in all these civic bodies,” he added.
All the five municipalities together have 81 wards and the Left and the Congress filed nominations for all seats. The filing of papers closed on August 23.
So far, Mamata Banerjee’s party could win only one civic body — Dhupguri in Jalpaiguri where polls were held in June 2012 — in the region. Although Trinamul has wrested a few seats in some other municipalities, the party is yet to gain control of any civic body other than Dhupguri.
In the 2008 municipal polls, the five civic bodies had together 77 wards and only one of them went — a seat in Alipurduar — to Trinamul then.
“We contested alone in Dhupguri in 2012 and won majority of the seats. In a similar manner, composition of the five civic bodies where polls will be held on September 21 will also change,” said Deb.
The Congress exuded confidence that it would retain the three municipalities.
“Trinamul leaders might have high claims. But we are confident that we can retain the civic bodies of Alipurduar, Haldibari and Dalkhola. People have watched how our civic boards have been functioning for years and will stand by us,” said Biswaranjan Sarkar, a Congress leader based in Alipurduar.
Bimal Sarkar, an RSP leader in Balurghat, said: “Although we could not perform well in the rural polls, we hope that the residents of Balurghat and smaller towns like Mekhliganj would be with us. The aspirations and demands of the urban people differ from those of the rural folk.”