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Bhabanipur by-poll: TMC welcomes EC decision, BJP expresses reservation


The West Bengal BJP and the CPI(M) on Saturday expressed reservations about the Election Commission’s decision to hold by-poll in Bhabanipur assembly constituency, from where West Bengal Chief Minister and party supremo Mamata Banerjee plans to contest, on September 30, while the ruling Trinamool Congress and the Congress welcomed it. Polling for “deferred adjourned” elections in two assembly seats of West Bengal – Samserganj and Jangirpur – will also be held on September 30, the Election Commission announced earlier in the day in New Delhi. However, citing Covid-19 situation, the EC decided not to hold by-elections in four other assembly seats in the state which are also lying vacant due to deaths and resignations of MLAs.

“We had always maintained that holding by-polls and polls to all the seats should be held together when the Covid-19 situation improves. We don’t know if holding by-election to one seat and election to two seats is a practical decision since the pandemic is still raging and there is the threat of third wave. However, we accept the decision of the EC,” opposition leader in the state Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP, said.

Adhikari defeated Banerjee from the Nandigram seat in the assembly elections held earlier this year. The ruling TMC is keen on the by-polls as Banerjee will have to get elected within six months to continue as the CM. In that case, the by-polls must be conducted by November 5.

The decision proved that the TMC’s allegations that the EC is being controlled by the BJP are false, he said.

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh wondered why the election to urban local bodies in the state are being held up for years while assembly by-election is facilitated when the TMC enjoys absolute majority.

Senior TMC leader Firhad Hakim said, “The bypoll was a necessity as per constitutional norms but the BJP was trying to derail the process for narrow partisan interest. We hail the decision of the EC. We will follow all Covid-19 guidelines.”

The Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP Pradip Bhattacharya said it is a welcome decision of the EC since holding bypolls within six months of counting is mandatory.

CPI(M) central committee member Sujan Chakraborty said, “Announcing the (by-election) date is welcome from the constitutional point of view. But why only Bhabanipur and two seats? Why not bypolls in other seats and elections in other seats?”

He said while elections to different bodies were regularly held during the 34 years of the Left Front rule, elections to different municipalities were overdue for over two years.

Banerjee had moved out of her traditional seat in Kolkata’s Bhabanipur to fight in Nandigram during the assembly polls. After the election results were out, senior TMC leader Sovandeb Chattopadhyay who won from Bhabanipur vacated the seat to allow Banerjee to contest from there. Banerjee had won from Bhabanipur twice since 2011.

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