BJP cites exams to seek late civic body elections in Bengal
The Bengal BJP on Thursday requested the state election commission to hold civic polls after April 25, saying political parties needed a window of at least 25 days for campaigning after Madhyamik and higher secondary exams got over on March 30.
The submission of the memorandum by the BJP came a day after the state poll panel had set the ball rolling for elections to 102 civic bodies, including Calcutta and Howrah municipal corporations, by instructing district authorities of North 24-Parganas, South 24-Parganas and Howrah to start ground work for holding the voting around mid-April.
Although the poll panel did not mention any probable date for the voting, sources had hinted that the state government was eager to hold elections in Calcutta and Howrah on April 12 and for the remaining 100 civic bodies on April 26.
“We have requested the state election commission to ensure that political parties get enough time for campaigning before the polls. If elections are held on April 12, the parties would get only 10 days for proper campaigning as loudspeakers cannot be used before March 30, the day when Madhyamik examinations come to an end,” said BJP leader Mukul Roy who had led the delegation that submitted the memorandum to the state election commission.
BJP insiders said the party was actually trying to buy some time before the Calcutta and Howrah civic elections as it was not ready to face polls within 45 days because of an organisational drawback.
“The party is yet to hold organisational elections in Calcutta because of its weak set-up even if such elections were over in all other districts. The party would need some time to organise itself in the city to put up a fight against the Trinamul Congress,” said a BJP insider.
Sources pointed out that even though the BJP was ahead in 53 wards in Calcutta in the last Lok Sabha polls, the situation is different this time.
“The Modi magic worked during the Lok Sabha polls, but in case of civic polls, the party would have to put up a strong organisation to counter the mighty Trinamul. The party cannot allow Trinamul a cakewalk in the civic polls as it would send a wrong signal ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls,” said a source.
The BJP insiders said the leaders were so far busy with the organisational elections across the state and none considered to prepare a policy based on which the party would fight the civic polls. “If we want to put up a strong fight, we need to tell the people what our alternative policy would be to govern the city better. But the party was yet to frame it,” said another source.
Trinamul, however, criticised the BJP for its alleged effort to defer the polls. “This is a typical mentality of a student weak in studies. Clearly, the BJP wants to defer the examination as it did not study throughout the year,” aid Firhad Hakim, Calcutta mayor and minister.
Sources in the poll panel said the schedule of the civic polls was yet to be finalised as the state did not communicate any probable date.