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SEC announces civic polls in Kolkata, Howrah on Dec 19; BJP moves court

Kolkata, Nov 9 (IANS) The State Election Commission (SEC) on Tuesday accepted the West Bengal government's proposal to conduct elections to two municipal corporations -- Kolkata and Howrah -- on December 19.

The SEC wrote to the state urban department on Tuesday stating that it is ready to conduct the elections to two municipal corporations on December 19. It also said that a notification regarding this will be issued on November 22. The counting of votes will take place on December 22.

The SEC also called a meeting on November 12 on poll preparedness where the district magistrates of Howrah and South 24 Parganas and the Commissioner of Kolkata Police have been asked to be present.

The BJP, meanwhile, has moved the Calcutta High Court drawing the attention of the division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Srivastav seeking elections to all the 118 civic bodies in the state together, which are pending for the last 18 months.

The state BJP also sought permission to file a case on the ground that holding elections to the civic bodies separately will increase the possibility of manipulation. The BJP wants elections to civic bodies and counting of votes on the same day.

The division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Srivastav and Indrashis Mukherjee said that the matter will be heard on November 16. The bench also asked the lawyers of the state government and the SEC to be present on that day with their replies.

Meanwhile, the state Assembly is going to bring in an amendment to delink the Bally municipality from Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC). Accordingly, 50 wards of HMC will go to the polls on December 19, while the date for Bally will be finalised later.

State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee said that a bill to the effect of delinking Bally from HMC will be introduced in the Assembly on Friday.

Earlier in 2015, 16 wards of Bally municipality were amalgamated with the 50 wards of HMC, taking the total number of wards to 66. But the residents of Bally had complained that they have to travel to Howrah for their civic issues, demanding a roll back of the decision.