All eyes are now set on a hearing in the High Court in a case filed by former English Bazaar Municipality (EBM) chairman and a present ward councillor, Narendranath Tewary, challenging the draft reservation of seats for the upcoming municipal elections. The Opposition parties were already vocal against the reservation, while Mr Tewary, who had joined the ruling Trinamul Congress recently, claimed that it was a conspiracy against him.

The matter also brings to light a tussle among party leaders in Malda, as the present chairman of the EBM and TMC leader, Nihar Ranjan Ghosh, has not supported the move and has claimed that Mr Tewary went to court on “someone’s provocation.” It may be noted here that as per the draft reservation published on 17 January, some TMC councillors will not be able to contest the civic elections from the seats they are occupying presently.

Mr Ghosh was one of them, but he had an option to interchange the wards to compete with his wife Gayatri Ghosh, also a councillor of the EBM. “However, Mr Tewary seems to have lost all hopes now as both the wards held by his wife and him are now reserved for a scheduled caste candidate” sources said today. The CPIM has already filed its complaints against the reservation, and the BJP has termed it a plan to save some TMC councillors. Mr Tewary alleged that the reservation was not done in the right manner.

“Roster 1 was followed in 2010, and the next year there was a census. In 2015, the wards became 29 from 25, but roster 2 was followed, though it is mentioned in the municipal laws that after delimitation of wards, roster 1 is to be followed. And now roster 3 has been followed instead of roster 2, which should not be done. I knocked almost every door in the party against it, but having no response, I had to go to court for justice,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Ghosh said, “In my opinion, it was wrong of him to go to court. May be there is provocation from someone behind the scenes.” According to BJP district president Gobinda Mandal, the draft reservation is a perfect instance of an effort to save some TMC councillors illegally. According to sources, the next hearing in the case in the High Court is tomorrow, while the final list is set to be published on 12 February.