Siliguri: With civic polls around the corner in Siliguri, the CPI(M) has geared up to secure another term at the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC).
SMC is the only urban civic body in West Bengal being ruled by the CPI(M). In the SMC elections held in 2015, the Left party and allies had won 23 out of 47 seats, while Trinamool Congress (TMC) had won 17 seats. The region has been the Left party’s stronghold as even in the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad polls, the CPI(M) had won six out of nine seats.
For the upcoming polls, the Left party has already declared the names of its candidates. The party will be led by the incumbent mayor of the SMC, Ashok Bhattacharya. Former deputy mayor Nurul Islam will also be contesting the elections on a CPI(M) ticket this time.
The Left Front is now set to contest from 43 out of 47 seats of the SMC. Congress will be contesting from 15 seats, while TMC and BJP are all set to fight for all of the 47 wards.
Speaking to NewsClick, a veteran politician and CPI(M) state secretariat member Ashok Bhattacharya said that in spite of his reservations, the party has insisted that he contesta and he will oblige. It can be recalled that Bhattacharya was a minister in the Left Front government for nearly 20 years. After the formation of Siliguri Municipal Corporation in 1994, he has led it from the front and has got elected several times with huge margins.
Sourav Sarkar, party’s candidate for ward no 4, said that he is 100 percent certain he will win. “The party had won this seat last time as well, but after winning, Parimal Mitra defected to TMC. People do not like such turncoats,” he said. Sourav is one of the new faces introduced by the party this time. He formerly was SFI Darjeeling district president.
Jishnu Halder, a grocery shop owner from Hakimpara, speaking about the upcoming polls, said, “Siliguri favours the party that gives us assurance of a peaceful living. Under the tenure of Ashok Bhattacharya, this has been well-maintained.” Nirupam Mitra, an SBI employee, said that the experience of the people when the TMC and Congress used to run the board was not good and hence people have got confidence and faith in the Left.
Despite having established itself elsewhere, the TMC has not managed to get a toehold in Siliguri so far.
It should be noted that it is the TMC that has been administering the SMC for the past nine months and people have been unsatisfied with their attitude, according to Ashok Bhattacharya. “They have built a huge gate in the municipal corporation office to prevent visitors from coming in freely to meet authorities of the municipality. During my time, everybody was allowed to enter the municipality and even meet the mayor without any appointment. TMC’s councillors, meanwhile, are corrupt and accept bribes to allow construction” alleged Bhattacharya.
He also emphasised that TMC will be the Left Front’s main adversary in the elections.