For the Saffron Party, which is feeling smart after defeat in the council elections in which it appeared for the second time, the challenge will be to banish internal disagreements and maintain its standing among the urban electorate.
The Kuomintang vote, Sunday, set the stage for a battle between the ruling Transitional Military Council, seeking to hold out amid grumbling within it over the downfall of many council members, and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, as the challenge is to snatch second place in the city. Civilian body from the left front with an angle CPI (M).
The BJP also faces the task of keeping its flock together after facing mass exodus after losing in the assembly poll. For the Saffron Party, which is feeling smart after defeat in the council elections in which it appeared for the second time, the challenge will be to banish internal disagreements and maintain its standing among the urban electorate. Internal disagreements within the BJP have been public over the past few months.
The civic poll, which has been delayed due to the pandemic, will be an opportunity for Trinamool Congress to make a much needed change of image after the 2018 panchayat elections given that it is trying to expand nationwide. Rural suffrage that year was marked by widespread violence and the transformation process would depend on ensuring peaceful KMT elections.
To this end, the Transitional Military Council leadership issued a warning to its candidates against any violence and threatened to expel those involved or not allow free and fair elections. All 16 cluster sectors in the city in the April-May council poll. It has been in power in the city’s civic body since 2010 and is expected to dominate the KMC elections this time as well, building on the momentum of its massive victory in the state poll and the recent UNESCO “Intangible Heritage” label for Kolkata’s Durga Puja.
Elections will be held in all 144 divisions of the KMT on December 19, and vote counting will take place on December 21. Motivated by its performance in the assembly elections, the party decided to make a change of image and lost 39. “non-working” sitting assemblies. Some are fighting as independents or have become inactive in the ballot campaign.
In the assembly poll, the share of BJP votes in the KMC district was 29 per cent, while in the state it was 38 per cent. In the previous version of the KMT poll, conducted in 2015, the TMC won 124 wings, the Left Front 13, the BJP five and the second Congress. In the polls, it hopes to get more than 135 seats this time.
“The development made by the TMC Board (in the civil body) since 2010 and the state government since 2011 is sufficient to ensure our victory in the KMC poll. Former Kolkata Mayor Farhad Hakim, former Minister of State, said “after our success in the council elections led by Mamata Banerjee , the party’s victory in the KMT elections is a foregone conclusion.” In contrast to the 2015 KMT polling campaign when the TMC went to battle offering then-mayor Suphan Chatterjee as a mayoral candidate,
The Transitional Military Council did not announce the candidate this time. Although Al-Hakim refused to comment on this, party sources said that the leadership of the Transitional Military Council decided this time not to announce any candidate for mayor because it did not want to “form a community campaign.” As our candidate, we had seen the BJP go to town because of the Muslim mayor’s issue. “We didn’t want that to happen, so we decided not to expect anyone,” said a senior Transitional Military Council commander.
Hakeem, a trusted aide to party chief Mamata Banerjee, took over as mayor of Kolkata in December 2018 after Chatterjee resigned from the post and other ministerial positions for personal reasons. Like Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Bidhan Chandra Roy, who is also a former Chief Minister, honored mayor in pre-independence India. Al-Hakim was the first Muslim to assume the mayor of the city after independence.
The civic body was established during the British era in 1876 with the introduction of the Calcutta Municipal Consolidation Act, 1876. The BJP, which lacked its KMT campaigning, hopes that the party will come out with “amazing results” if free and fair elections are held. We wanted the Kuomintang elections to be held in the presence of the Central Powers. But now that the polls will be held under the supervision of the state police, we are concerned about how the elections will be conducted. “If it’s free and fair, we hope to come out with amazing results,” said Sukanta Majumdar, BJP state chief.
By the way, both TMC and BJP have a common opponent – freelancers. Independents are the contestants whose parties are denied tickets and compete alone in both North and South Kolkata. They were pushed to the margins of West Bengal politics, but this time decided to run separately.
Facing an existential crisis, this time CPI(M) dispatched young candidates from the Red Volunteer Brigade – a group of left-wing activists in their twenties, who have received awards for their humanitarian services during the lockdown. The young group has to reclaim lost ground among urban voters in Sunday’s civic poll in the city.
The Red Volunteers are widely accepted by the masses. The vote share they were able to secure on the last assembly ballot was well above our average share of the vote. So this time during the KMC poll, it was a conscious decision to introduce more young candidates,” a senior CPI(M) leader said he said CPI(M) aims to defeat both TMC and BJP but at the same time acknowledged that retaining second place in the Civil elections will be her main challenge.
On the other hand, the Congress is hoping for good results, as the BJP, the Left Front and the Congress have focused on the alleged illegal construction in the city, water logging, and worsening law and order, as the main panels in their statements for the KMT elections. The Governor’s Trinamool Congress on its part has promised to improve the facilities, which he confirmed have been put in place during his term in the past two terms.
During her short campaign, Banerjee emphasized providing “better and corruption-free” civil services. The head of the Transitional Military Council also said that the UNESCO heritage mark of Durga Puja was due to the efforts of the government and would be enough to sweep the polls.
According to political analyst Suman Bhattacharya, the challenge for the TMC is to ensure violence-free elections, while for the BJP it is a battle to establish itself in southern Bengal. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the left gets a higher vote share or more seats than the BJP in the Kuomintang elections.”
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