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Bengal Civic Polls Postponed to Feb 12 in View Surge in Covid-19 Cases in State

People stand in queue to receive a dose of Covid-19 vaccine during a vaccination drive at a transit camp for Gangasagar Mela pilgrims, in Kolkata on January 11, 2022. (PTI Photo/Swapan Mahapatra)

People stand in queue to receive a dose of Covid-19 vaccine during a vaccination drive at a transit camp for Gangasagar Mela pilgrims, in Kolkata on January 11, 2022. (PTI Photo/Swapan Mahapatra)

The Calcutta HC had asked the poll panel to consider postponing the civic elections in Asansol, Bidhannagar, Siliguri and Chandernagore by at least four to six weeks.

The West Bengal State Election Commission has postponed the polls to four municipal corporations in the state a day after the Calcutta High Court asked the poll panel to take a call within 48 hours.

In view of the prevalent Covid-19 situation in the state, the state election commission on Saturday announced that the polls to Asansol (Paschim Bardhaman), Bidhannagar (North 24 Parganas), Siliguri (Darjeeling) and Chandernagore (Hooghly) civic bodies will take place on February 12.

News18.com on Saturday reported that the poll panel is scheduled to hold a meeting on the issue with state government representatives and officials from the state disaster management response team in Kolkata.

The Calcutta High Court had on Friday asked the West Bengal State Election Commission to consider postponing the civic elections in Asansol, Bidhannagar, Siliguri and Chandannagar by at least four to six weeks, giving it 48 hours to come out with its stand.

The division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava was hearing a PIL filed by one Bimal Bhattacharya, who argued that considering the escalating Covid-19 situation, the civic polls should be postponed.

The PIL was filed after the state’s poll panel announced that elections in the four municipalities would be held as scheduled on January 22, and counting would take place on January 25. Sources said the state government is likely to propose that voting be deferred to February 12.

Political parties, too, had demanded that the polls be deferred in view of rising Covid-19 infections in the state.

“The court has almost stated that the state EC should postpone the polls. Let’s see what happens… We have given a letter to the EC twice to postpone elections because in this situation, it’s not possible to continue with elections,” said BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya.

TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, too, had stated recently: “Right now, nothing should take place in the coming two months. I personally feel that our priority now should be fighting Covid.”

On Friday, West Bengal recorded 22,645 new Covid-19 cases with the positivity rate at 31.14%. The ongoing Gangasagar Mela is feared to further push up the numbers.

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first published:January 15, 2022, 09:26 IST