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Mamata wants to return to ballot papers for Bengal civic polls next year

Elections are due next year in as many as 82 civic bodies including the crucial Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Respective State Election Commissions are responsible for holding civic polls in each state.

india Updated: Jun 18, 2019 19:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Ballot paper,EVMs,Bengal civic polls
TMC announced Tuesday its intention to ask the Bengal election commissioner to return to ballots for the civic body elections in the state.(Parwaz Khan /HT PHOTO)

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is taking her fight against the electronic voting machines (EVMs) to the next level with “no ballot, no vote” slogan for the civic polls, due next year in Bengal.

Mamata Banerjee’s party Trinamool Congress (TMC) announced Tuesday its intention to ask the Bengal election commissioner to return to ballots for the civic body elections in the state.

“We would make submissions both from the government and the party for holding elections with ballots. Our leader chief minister Mamata Banerjee has already said that we are urging a return to the ballots,” said , urban development minister and Kolkata mayor Firhad Hakim at a meeting of the party’s councillors in Kolkata.

“We are saying no ballot, no vote. Of course, it is up to the State Election Commissioner (SEC) to take a decision on this issue,” added Hakim.

Elections are due next year in as many as 82 civic bodies including the crucial Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Respective State Election Commissions are responsible for holding civic polls in each state.

Speaking before Firhad Hakim, the chief minister said that the call to return to manual ballot paper counting system will be intensified during party’s annual flagship programme on July 21 in Kolkata.

Mamata Banerjee had recently blamed alleged ‘selective manipulation of EVMs’ for BJP’s landslide win in the Lok Sabha elections, including the historic 18 seats, the saffron party won on Mamata’s home turf.

After the BJP’s historic sweep of the 2019 general elections, Mamata had urged the opposition parties to form a fact-finding committee to probe possible EVM tampering. Her party is also planning ‘padayatras’ (long marches) across the state, demanding abolition of the EVMs.

Mamata Banerjee today repeated her-- “give us back our ballot (system), save democracy”—appeal, made first on June 3 while meeting party MLAs and MPs.

The BJP was quick to hit back at the TMC, “They want to return to the ballot system since they want to loot votes. But they should remember that they flexed muscles in the 2018 panchayat elections and got a punch back from the people in 2019 Lok Sabha polls. If they loot ballots in 2020 civic elections, they would be paid back by the people in 2021 when the Assembly polls are to be held,” said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Bengal unit general secretary Sayantan Basu.

Tuesday’s meeting of the councillors took place against the backdrop of the TMC losing control of five civic bodies in Bengal since the Lok Sabha elections largely due to the defections to the BJP.

First Published: Jun 18, 2019 19:35 IST