After its huge victory in the recent Assembly by-elections. West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress government is keen to conduct the corporation and municipal election in two phases – initially the corporation election followed by the municipal election in the next four months.
There are strong indications that the government will conduct the corporation elections in December and the municipal elections in January.
Sources in the government indicated that the state is keen to conduct the election of the three corporations initially, then the election of the 112 municipalities that are pending for over 18 months.
The State Election Commission has already sought the state government’s permission to conduct election of the three Municipal Corporations – Kolkata, Howrah, and Bidhannagar in December and once they get the green signal from the state government, the notification regarding this might be given after Kali Puja is over.
According to sources in the State Election Commission, the state is keen to conduct the corporation election on December 19 and announce the results on December 22.
“The state is keen to complete the election process before the winter festive season that starts on December 25,” a senior official of the commission said.
“The civic body elections are pending for more than 18 months because of the pandemic situation and the subsequent lockdown. We want to complete the polls as soon as possible. We need the financial sanction from the Finance Department. Once the state government gives us the clearance, we will be in a position to announce the dates,” the official said.
A senior official of the state Finance Department said that the SEC has asked for the financial sanction from the department. “The commission has asked for Rs 185 crore to complete the polls in 112 municipalities. That is almost double the cost of the pre-poll five years ago. We are working on it. It will be sent to the Chief Minister for clearance soon,” a senior official of the department said.
Sources in the commission also said that the state has also asked the SEC to get prepared for the election in 112 municipalities.
Apart from the financial sanction, the poll body will also have to look into the police arrangements and maintain the Covid protocol before the announcement of the polls.
“We will have to conduct elections in almost 22,000 booths in 112 municipalities and because of Covid, we need more election personnel and police arrangements. We have already spoken to the state government regarding this. We are fully prepared to conduct the polls,” an election official said.
Before the Durga Puja holidays, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee herself had hinted that the pending election of the civic bodies will be completed after the completion of the four Assembly by-polls in the state.