The SEC̵7;s announcement comes at a time when a petition is pending before the Calcutta HC to conduct elections to all 112 municipal bodies in West Bengal on a single day.
The West Bengal State Election Commission issued a notification on November 25 saying that the elections to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation would be held on December 19. State Election Commissioner Saurav Das said that elections for 144 wards of the city’s municipal bodies will be held on December 19, where the number of voters is around 40.48 lakh.
“The model code of conduct comes into force from today,” Mr Das said. Voting will be held on December 19 from 7 am to 5 pm and the election process will be completed by December 22. Commission officials said restrictions related to COVID-19 would be followed during the campaign.
The term of the elected members of Kolkata Municipal Corporation ended in May 2020, but the elections could not be held due to the COVID-19 situation. The state government had appointed outgoing Mayor Firhad Hakim as the chairman of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s board of administrators. The Trinamool Congress has been in power in the city’s civic body since 2010.
The announcement comes at a time when The petition is pending before the Calcutta High Court On holding elections on the same day in all 112 municipal bodies of West Bengal including Kolkata Municipal Corporation. The leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party had approached the court demanding that all municipal elections be held on the same day. After the notification was issued on Thursday, the BJP leadership has sought the court’s intervention in the matter.
The state election commissioner said he would not be able to comment on the matter pending in the court. Mr Das also said that the commission has waited till November 24 and no order has been passed by the court in this regard. He said the election notification was in accordance with the procedures laid down in the Act.
While the Trinamool Congress leadership welcomed the announcement, the Bharatiya Janata Party questioned why the announcement was made when the matter was pending in court. BJP spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya said the party would approach the high courts on the issue.
Elections to about 112 municipal bodies in West Bengal, including Howrah Municipal Corporation, are pending for a long time. The state government recently passed a bill to bifurcate the Howrah Municipal Corporation, but the governor has sought clarification on the law.