Civic poll results: Trinamul tornado blows away Opposition
Trinamul, which won 102 of the 108 municipalities on Wednesday, secured all seats in as many as 33 municipalities in the state — an unprecedented feat in the history of Bengal.
Of the 108 civic bodies, one each has been won by the CPM and Hamro Party and four have thrown up a hung verdict.
However, even as the ruling party cheered the triumph, some bureaucrats and political observers pointed out the functional difficulties that Opposition-less civic bodies may face over the next five years.
“The ruling party may have won all the seats in these municipalities, but running them won't be easy,” said a senior government official, speaking on the need for Opposition councillors.
According to sources in the urban development and municipal affairs department, there is a convention that an opposition councillor is selected as the chairman of the municipal finance committee in each civic body.
“But as there are no Opposition councilors in these 33 civic bodies, a ruling party councillor has to be nominated for the post. There will be no administrative problem in the absence of Opposition councillors, but the ruling party may face other problems,” said a senior bureaucrat.
Sources said as no Opposition councillors will lead the municipal finance committee, there will be no checks and balances in the civic body expenditure. “This may lead to problems like allegations of misappropriation of funds. Such allegations had left the Trinamul in real trouble ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” said a source.
Moreover, in case a ruling party councillor is made the chairman of municipal finance committee, there is a chance of a second power group emerging within the ruling party in the civic body.
The absence of any Opposition councillor will also be felt in the monthly meeting of the board of councillors, which will affect the planning.
“The civic body usually fixes its monthly work plan based on the outcome of the meeting. In these meetings, the ruling party gets a feel of people’s grievances through the Opposition councillors. Without Opposition councillors, the ruling party may not get to know the ground reality,” said a district magistrate.
The one-sided election results, Opposition parties alleged, was primarily because of electoral malpractice by the ruling party with the help of the state poll panel, the local police and administration.
“Majority of these municipalities are in South and North 24-Parganas, Birbhum and Burdwan East where the ruling party carried out unprecedented rigging,” said CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty.
The allegation, some political observers felt, cannot be wished away. “In wards 23, 24 and 26 of Burdwan municipality, Trinamul candidates got more than 95 per cent votes. In wards 12 and 22 of Bolpur municipality, Trinamul candidates got 96 and 97 per cent votes. Is it a true reflection of democracy? Isn’t it abnormal?” asked a bureaucrat.
Trinamul leaders in East Burdwan and Birbhum denied these charges and said people voted for the ruling party in droves in the absence of any credible alternative.