Several SMP seats without BJP candidates
The BJP, which had bagged over 50 per cent of votes in the rural areas of Siliguri subdivision just a year ago, has failed to field candidates in a number of seats in two lower tiers of the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad (SMP) where elections will be held on June 26.
Elections would be held in nine SMP seats, 66 seats of four panchayat samitis and 462 seats of 22 village panchayats of the sub-division.
According to the data available with the state election commission that is conducting the SMP polls, the BJP has failed to field candidates in at least 66 panchayat seats and six panchayat samiti seats.
At the panchayat level, the BJP has left most of the seats vacant in Phansidewa block, followed by Naxalbari. The party could not field candidates in six panchayat samiti seats of Phansidewa.
The BJP had bagged both the Assembly seats which cover the SMP area — Matigara-Naxalbari and Phansidewa — in last year’s elections.
Senior BJP functionaries admitted there had been some lapses in the selection of candidates. “It obviously sends a negative message to voters who might swing to other parties. We should have been more proactive in selecting candidates so that not a single seat is left vacant,” said a party leader.
Anandamoy Barman, the president of BJP’s Siliguri (organisational district), however, tried to put up a brave face.
“In 2015, when the SMP elections were held for the last time, we fielded around 200 candidates altogether. This time, we have fielded candidates in close to 90 per cent seats. Some seats were left vacant because of reservations and some other issues. We are confident of coming up with good results,” Barman, who is also the Matigara-Naxalbari MLA, said.
Additional reporting by Bireswar Banerjee