Municipal elections are around the corner and all parties are eyeing the position of the Mayor. While sources in Trinamool Congress (TMC) say the party’s first choice is current Mayor Firhad Hakim, the BJP appears to still be clueless.
The saffron party has made tall claims of dislodging the TMC from power in West Bengal in the 2021 Assembly elections, with the Municipal elections being a litmus test. The BJP is yet to find it’s mayoral candidate for more than 100 municipalities, including the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC).
According to sources in BJP, one section of the state unit wants that the party banks heavily on a candidate for municipal polls, while another section thinks otherwise.
“BJP itself is a face, throughout the country people recognize us as BJP,” says a confident BJP State President Dilip Ghosh.
A senior BJP leader claimed that if the party thinks of winning polls with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah’s face then that will be a mistake.
“Modi ji is our Prime Minister people relate to him at a national level, but for the people of the state for local state centric issues they need to relate to a local face, thus a face is required to be projected,” said the senior leader on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, some sources in TMC also say that apart from current Mayor Hakkim, there are several other names in line.
“There are several names including Councillors but our party's one and only face is Mamata Banerjee and people give us vote seeing her face,” said TMC MLA Tapash Roy.
Other parties like Congress and CPIM have made a list of probable names but till now, no final decision has been made as both parties claim that they need to sit and discuss the issue. The two parties will have to fight harder to claim their stake in the TMC-BJP fight for power. Sources say that these two parties may introduce an individual who is a well-known face in society but has not indulged in politics. Their second option is a candidate who is a seasoned politician, such as CPIM leader Bikash Bhattacharya.
“We have not yet discussed the name of the candidate but we will certainly sit and discuss and project a candidate for the municipal polls,” said Congress MP Pradip Bhattacharya.
According to law, those fighting for the post of Kolkata Mayor have to be residents under Kolkata Municipal Corporation jurisdiction. However, in case of the BJP, the leaders who are popular faces amongst their supporters like Sayantan Basu, Raju Bandhopadhai and Samik Bhattacharya are not residents under Kolkata Municipal Corporation jurisdiction. Leaders who are residents under the jurisdiction, appear not to be very popular.
Many within the saffron party also thought that former Mayor Sovan Chatterjee who jumped ship from TMC to BJP, would actively take part in the party functioning and also be projected as the party candidate as Mayor. The situation has however been a bit different so far.
The civic polls will cover about 60% of the State with elections to 109 municipalities, including KMC expected in April. The Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Asansol Municipal Corporation (AMC) are likely go to polls later in June.