Mamata, Abhishek campaign in Kolkata for civic body polls

BJP leaders allege rampant corruption in KMC board, held by the Trinamool Congress since 2010

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool Congress (TMC) general secretary Abhishek Banerjee on Thursday hit the streets as the campaign for the polls to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) reached its final phase. The CM held a few public rallies in south Kolkata while Mr. Banerjee held a road show in north Kolkata. Elections to the KMC’s 144 wards will be held on December 19.

The CM spoke of how the board of the Trinamool Congress had helped the city tide over frequent cyclones, including Amphan in May 2020. Ms. Banerjee said that despite pressure from different corners, including the Centre, she had not allowed the imposition of any tax on water. Promising better infrastructure, Ms. Banerjee cautioned TMC nominees to the civic polls that they would have to “stand with the people” and be more accessible.

From the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), leaders like Suvendu Adhikari and State president Sukanta Majumdar campaigned for party nominees. Both alleged rampant corruption, particularly relating to real estate, in the board run by the Trinamool Congress. They also refuted Ms. Banerjee’s claims that the Centre was pressurising the KMC to impose water tax.

The campaign for elections to KMC will end on Friday. The Trinamool Congress has been running the KMC board since 2010.

In another development, the Calcutta High Court rejected a petition by the BJP leadership seeking deployment of Central armed police forces for the civic polls. Justice Rajasekhar Mantha in his order said that, “Since the State Election Commission does not see the requirement of deployment of Central Forces, this Court is not inclined to accede to the prayer of the petitioner on that score.”

The High Court, however, directed that the Commissioner of Kolkata Police shall “forthwith attend to any other complaints from other complainants and based on the threat perception [to] ensure appropriate security as also other measures”.

“All steps must be taken to facilitate exercise of franchise by citizens and free, fair and peaceful elections are held,” Justice Mantha said.

The BJP leadership may move to a Division Bench challenging the order.

The Kolkata Police has decided deploy about 23,000 personnel across the city for the polls.

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