Kolkata civic elections: Aam aadmi knocks on BJP door

  • Ravik Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
  • Updated: Mar 12, 2015 13:29 IST

Ordinary people without any political background are flocking to the BJP headquarters for a ticket to contest the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) polls.

As much as 40% of the over 1,800 applications received by the saffron party were from ordinary citizens. The state unit is now busy screening the applications for the 144 wards of the KMC.

BJP leaders in the state are scheduled to hold a meeting on March 13, after which the party will fix a date to announce the names of its candidates. The polls are scheduled to be held around mid April and the party is racing against time to come out with a list of candidates.

This comes at a time when the ruling Trinamool Congress has already announced its candidates and is ready to hit the streets with its political programmes.

“It is interesting to know that about 40% of the applications we received are from ordinary people. They are neither our workers nor do they have any political background. I think that this has never happened with any political party. My reading is that ordinary citizens want to connect with us,” said Rahul Sinha, state BJP president.

“Usually, it is the leaders and workers of a political party who aspire to get a ticket. We are screening such applications and suitable persons will be chosen as our candidates,” added Sinha.

Sinha stated that till Tuesday, nearly 1,800 applications have reached the party headquarters, which also include candidates recommended by block and district leaders.

“The sheer number of applications is overwhelming and they are still coming. We have to be careful while screening them,” said Sinha.

According to political circles, Trinamool Congress is expected to hold on to KMC, while the BJP is likely to emerge as the main opposition force, surpassing the CPI(M) and the Congress.

Sources in the BJP stated that professionals, businessmen, teachers and others of all ages have applied to be a candidate for the KMC polls. Some applications have also come from retired professionals. A sizeable number of applications also came from the youth.

The party’s state leaders said that it is yet to spruce up its organisation in Kolkata, despite the vote percentage seeing a sharp rise since the Lok Sabha polls last year.

The party is also struggling to set up booth committees at all the 144 wards. Party leaders felt that the ongoing membership drive is also helping the BJP spread its organisation in Kolkata.

“There is a process which we follow in choosing candidates. If Trinamool Congress has started (campaigning), let it do so,” said Ritesh Tiwari, general secretary of the state BJP.

Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress, which announced its candidates’ list recently, has hit the streets with its political message. Though there is a ban on use of loud speakers, the party has started wall graffiti and is distributing pamphlets.

Small group meetings have also started in the city between party workers and voters. The Congress and the Left Front are yet to announce their candidates.

While Congress grapples with defections to Trinamool Congress, Left Front’s vote percentage has been on a constant decline since the Lok Sabha polls.

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