‘Ruling TMC is scared of holding polls together for fear of being defeated in the local body elections’.

New Delhi: With the date for Kolkata Municipal elections being declared earlier this week, the Bengal unit of the BJP is raising its pitch to conduct all the 100 municipal elections pending for over one-and-a-half years simultaneously in Bengal.
The BJP says that they are prepared for the municipal elections in Bengal and that the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) is scared of holding all the elections together as they fear that they could face a drubbing in these local body elections.
BJP Bengal vice president Jay Prakash Mazumdar told The Sunday Guardian, “The TMC government is deliberately delaying the long pending municipal elections in Bengal. The state government is picking and choosing on which municipality they want elections for, but they don’t have that power. If the situation in Bengal is conducive for holding elections, then why shouldn’t we hold elections in all the municipalities together? We have been asking the government to hold these elections for the last one year. The people of Bengal are being deprived of their local services as there are no public representatives for the people of Bengal for a very long time. The TMC seems to be scared of holding these elections.”
Mazumdar also said that the BJP is ready to contest all the municipal elections together and that the State Election Commission is behaving like a tool of the ruling TMC government and following their orders. A total of 106 municipalities and six municipal corporations, including that of the Kolkata municipal corporation, has been functioning without elected representatives for the last one-and-a-half year. The term for these civic bodies had come to an end in February 2020, but the state government and the state election commission had deferred the election citing “Covid 19 issues”.
These municipalities and municipal corporations of West Bengal have been functioning over the last one year by representatives appointed by the West Bengal government. Most of these appointed representatives are ex-mayors of these civic bodies and are enjoying an extended term.
However, sources from the BJP and many district leaders from Bengal that this correspondent spoke to have said that the BJP is, in fact, unprepared to contest elections at this very moment as the district units have remained non-functional for the last six months, ever since the BJP lost the elections.
Leaders have also pointed out how thousands of their grassroots and booth level workers have switched to the TMC over these months, due to the lack of protection and commitment from the senior state leaders of the BJP. A senior district BJP leader from North 24 Parganas told this correspondent, “The district units are almost non-functional. There are about three organisational districts in North 24 Parganas and none of these districts have the strength to contest elections now. The cadres are scared; they have fled to the TMC because the state leaders have failed to provide them with any support. The district units are faction ridden. There is no coordination among the leaders to work together to contest elections. It will be very difficult for the BJP to even pose a challenge to the TMC, if this situation continues.”
Another district leader from Burdwan told this correspondent that they do not have any worker with them to even campaign for the party. “Post the election results and after the violence that we saw, everyone started working for the TMC. What will they do here if their own party disowns them after elections? The district units are not being changed; the state is not listening to anyone from the ground. We don’t have people to even send as election agents at this moment if the elections are declared,” the BJP leader said.
Another BJP leader from Nadia district said that the BJP is taking its own sweet time to make changes. He also accused the state leadership of not paying heed to the problems of the districts. However, sources in the state BJP said that the new state committee will be declared by the newly appointed state unit president Dr Sukanta Mazumdar anytime soon, and likely within the next one week. Sources have also indicated that a major change is ensuing in the state committee which will be announced by the president will see many surprises. It is likely to have 12 new vice presidents, with a focus on women, youth and the old guard of the BJP, following which the district units will also be revamped, the BJP source told this correspondent.