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Spotlight on Siliguri civic polls

In north Bengal, where the BJP had won 30 0f 54 Assembly seats last year, elections would be held in 19 other municipalities on February 27
The SMC headquarters
The SMC headquarters
File photo

Avijit Sinha   |   Siliguri   |   Published 10.02.22, 01:39 AM

Siliguri, one of the four civic bodies to have elections on February 12, seems to be politically the most charged up.

State leaders of different parties, especially Trinamul, the BJP and the Left, are camping in Siliguri for past few days and extensively reaching out to the people to draw support in favour of their respective candidates fielded in different seats of the 47-ward Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC).

“After many years, intense political heat can be felt in Siliguri. Some of the processions taken out by the political parties in wards have surprised the residents as the pomp and show witnessed in them is no less than in the campaigns usually seen during Assembly elections. This clearly indicates that all political parties are equally keen to secure a majority in the SMC,” said Pradip Chakraborty, a retired railway employee and a Siliguri resident.

Political pundits and veteran politicians in the region have attributed a number of reasons for why, unlike the other three civic bodies of Chandernagore, Bidhannagar and Asansol that will also see elections on February 12, all the parties are focusing on Siliguri.

“Unlike the other three, this is the only civic body in Bengal where Trinamul has never been in power. This is something that has made Bengal’s ruling party desperate to win here. On the other hand, the Left, which has an understanding with the Congress, wants to retain the municipal corporation to prove that the ‘Siliguri model’ still works and can thwart Trinamul from securing the board,” said Soumen Nag, a social researcher in Siliguri.

Another aspect that has made Siliguri stand out in 2022 is the performance of the saffron camp in last year’s Assembly elections.

In Siliguri civic area, both the MLAs are from the BJP. The city also comes under the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat which the saffron party has won since 2009.

“Hence the BJP has also cast its focus on the civic polls in Siliguri. The party wants to prove that it enjoys support base across the city, because in the Assembly polls, the BJP had a lead in as many as 45 of the 47 wards,” pointed out a political observer.

The BJP has a greater stake here, he pointed out.

In north Bengal, where the BJP had won 30 0f 54 Assembly seats last year, elections would be held in 19 other municipalities on February 27, he said.

“The results of the SMC polls will definitely have an impact on the results of these civic bodies. If Trinamul manages to secure majority here, it would bolster the confidence of its supporters in these municipal areas, as well and could indicate withering support base of the BJP in north Bengal,” the observer added.

At the last SMC elections held in 2015, the Left had managed to secure 23 seats and had formed the board with the support of an Independent candidate.

Trinamul had won in seven seats, the Congress in four and the BJP had secured the remaining two seats.

This time, there are in all 201 candidates in the poll fray while the total number of voters is 4,02,897.

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