Putting behind assembly loss, BJP plans for Bengal civic polls

The Bharatiya Janata Party has started preparations for polls to 107 municipal bodies in West Bengal, expected to be held later this year. The polls were initially scheduled to be held before the assembly elections.

“We are conducting booth-level surveys at the moment to analyse the assembly elections. We have formed several preparations committees and are monitoring the overall preparedness through district level networks. We are trying to monitor municipalities from the district perspective,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh told ET.

Ghosh claimed that the Trinamool Congress, which secured a massive win in the high decibel assembly elections recently, did not want to hold the civic polls because chief minister Mamata Banerjee ‘knew her party would face defeat’. The BJP which expected to capture power could win only 77 seats, despite a campaign blitzkrieg led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, it emerged as the main Opposition in Bengal for the first time.

“We are participating in marathon virtual meetings every day and connecting with the districts. With a good support base in Bengal, we are preparing for the civic polls scheduled to be held this year in more than 100 civic bodies,” Dilip Ghosh said. Among other things, the election campaigns were blamed for the massive surge in Covid-19 cases in April-May and neighbouring Bihar put off local body elections only recently.

Trinamool won 213 of the 292 seats in the assembly polls. BJP had improved its vote share to over 40% in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. “It dipped in the assembly polls but we are hopeful about the civic polls,” Ghosh said. The BJP leadership has asked party workers to increase mass outreach programmes in all 107 municipalities. The party is particularly focusing on the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

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With a large number of BJP leaders likely to switch to Trinamool, ahead of the civic polls, Ghosh alleged “despite winning several gram panchayat seats, our leaders were prevented from running panchayats. Our winning candidates were attacked and murdered. Trinamool leaders didn’t allow us to file nominations during panchayat polls. We will face several other challenges in the civic polls as well.”

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