With four West Bengal municipalities going to the polls tomorrow, February 12, the spotlight seems firmly on the Bidhannagar Municipal polls 2022 in particular, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee herself taking an interest. The other three municipalities are Chandannagar, Asansol, and Siliguri.
The 2022 Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation elections will be held to elect 41 members to the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation (BMC), with Trinamool Congress (TMC), BJP, Congress, and Left Front locked in a high-stakes contest for most of the seats, though early exit polls suggest a TMC sweep.
Of particular interest to political observers in the state is the role of Sabyasachi Dutta, the first mayor of BMC, whose highly publicised departure from TMC to join the BJP was reversed after spending two years with the latter, when he returned to the TMC fold in October 2021. Reportedly a favourite of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Dutta is a candidate from ward no. 31 in a must-win contest. Given his considerable influence in the area, his political opponents have expressed fears that he will make attempts to interfere in the voting process, which has resulted in a tightening of security across Bidhannagar.
How crucial the polls are to the TMC is evident from the fact that Mamata reportedly called Dutta today and asked him to ensure that voting remains peaceful in the area. With the state government having decided to conduct the polls without any help from central security forces, the task of ensuring free and fair elections rests largely on the Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate, with help from the West Bengal Police.
Given the potential for a breach in law and order during the polls, state Chief Secretary H.K. Dwivedi summoned Bidhannagar Police Commissioner Supratim Sarkar to the state secretariat Nabanna for a high-level meeting with Home Secretary B.P Gopalika, Director General of Police Manoj Malaviya, and ADG (Law and Order) Jawed Shamim. Sarkar is reported to have assured the others that no violation of law and order would be tolerated during the polling process in his jurisdiction.
Nonetheless, the State Election Commission, too, is paying special attention to Bidhannagar, with an additional 1,000 police personnel being deployed in the area. This will be the first time that Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR), an armed force of the West Bengal Police, and the Special Task Force (STF) will be deployed to maintain the peace during elections in Bidhannagar. Additionally, IGP (CID) Anand Kumar and ADG & IGP (CID) Gyanwant Singh, who holds the additional charge of ADG (STF), will both be in special charge of the election process.