Alleging that the draft of the reservation of wards under the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) was not prepared in accordance with the rules, the Left Front and the Congress today said they will file objections with the State Election Commission (SEC). The Front and the Congress are set to contest the upcoming civic body elections in Siliguri on a seat-sharing basis. The draft list was published on 17 January, while parties can file their ‘claims and objections’ within 31 January. Left Front and Congress leaders held a meeting in this regard here today.

“We today discussed at length the draft of the reservation list and we observed that it was not made according to the rules. We want that the elections be held according to the Constitution. The reservation of the list should be made according to the rules and Acts. Our preliminary observation suggested that there are gross violations in some areas, and we will raise those issues with the SEC,” said Siliguri Mayor and senior CPI-M leader, Asok Bhattacharya.

Giving an example, Mr Bhattacharya pointed out that six wards were reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) candidates and one-third of it would be for women. “According to the onethird calculation, there should have been two wards for SC women, but instead of that, three wards have been reserved. There are some more discrepancies in the list,” he added. State Congress working president Sankar Malakar said both the Front and the Congress agreed on this issue.

“We have concluded that the draft list has been prepared with political motivation. It has been made according to the wishes of the ruling party. It has been reflected that persons whom the Trinamul Congress did not like have become victims of the reservation,” said Mr Malakar, who is also the MLA of Matigara- Naxalbari. Of the four wards, which Congress had won in last elections, three wards–7, 16, 21–the stronghold of the Congress, have been reserved, and as such the party would face problems there, he said.

“We have agreed to file joint objections with the SEC on 27 January to press for our demand that the final list of the reservation be prepared according to the rules and Act,” Mr Malakar said. He flagged concerns that it indicated efforts were made so that the elections might not be free and fair. Mr Malakar said that if necessary, they would move the court too.