Durgapur: After violence-ridden civic polls In West Bengal in May, seven municipal bodies go to polls today. Voting is on for Durgapur Municipal Corporation, Dhupguri Municipality, Buniadpur Municipality, Coopers’ Camp Notified Area, Nalhati Municipality, Panskura Municipality and Haldia Municipality. By-elections are being held for two wards – Champdani Municipality (ward 12) and Jhargram Municipality (ward 7).
Polling is being held amid tight security at 815 polling stations. Durgapur Municipal Corporation is the largest civic body with 43 wards and 491 polling stations. The smallest is the Coopers’ Camp Notified Area with 12 wards and 43 polling stations. Results will be declared on August 17.
In the run up to voting day, Durgapur, 200 km from Kolkata, saw sporadic clashes. The other six places are also under strict watch of the State Election Commission.
The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has left no stone unturned to ensure its victory in all the civic bodies. Mamata Banerjee, party chief, urged her party leaders and workers to ensure its win in all the seats. The TMC has already bagged two seats in Panskura municipality, one seat in Durgapur Municipal Corporation (DMC) and one seat in Cooper’s Camp Notified Authority, where its candidates have won uncontested after their rival nominees from different political parties withdrew their candidature.
The West Bengal unit of the BJP had asked the State Election Commissioner to deploy central police forces to ensure free and fair elections. Party leaders alleged that due to intimidation by the TMC, two minority candidates of BJP in Panskura municipality were forced to withdraw their nomination.
In the previous civic elections in May, polling was held for seven civic bodies of Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong, Mirik Notified Area Authority in the Hills besides Domkal in Murshidabad, Pujali in South 24-Parganas, and Raiganj in North Dinajpur. The election was marred by unprecedented violence which left several people injured.
The Trinamool Congress had won four municipalities, including Mirik in the hills of Darjeeling, a stronghold for years of BJP ally the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). The GJM won three, including Darjeeling.