The TMC on Saturday warned its civic poll candidates against use of violence and strong-arm tactics, asserting that those found flouting the diktat will be thrown out of party. Elections to the 144-ward Kolkata Municipal Corporation will be held on December 19.
A closed-door meeting of all 144 TMC candidates was held during the day, which was primarily addressed by the party’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee. “Our leader Abhishek Banerjee has clearly said that the party won’t tolerate any strong-arm tactics or use of violence during the KMC polls.
“He has clearly said that if anyone violates the party’s diktat, he or she would be thrown out of the party, irrespective of his closeness to the top leadership and his stature,” one of the TMC candidates and former mayor-in-council of KMC, Tarak Singh, told reporters after the meeting. Echoing him, senior TMC leader and former city mayor Firhad Hakim said the party is confident of getting people’s mandate, given the developmental work it has undertaken in the last ten years.
“If anyone is found using strong-arm tactics, he will have to face strict action,” he maintained. “Banerjee, during the meeting, emphasised that we must honour people’s verdict. The TMC believes in upholding democratic principles,” Hakim, a contestant from ward number 82, said.
The warning comes days after senior TMC MP Sougata Roy stirred a hornet’s nest when he said that the party would not accept any form of violence by candidates during the upcoming civic polls as it had to pay a heavy price for it during the 2018 panchayat elections. According to TMC sources, Banerjee has also sent out a message to rebel members who have decided to fight as Independents, asking them to follow party discipline.
“Abhishek Banerjee has asked the ones who have not received tickets to work for the party and take part in campaigning. Those who have filed nominations as independents have not done the right thing. They should also follow party discipline,” Hakim said. The ruling party also asked candidates not to organise big rallies, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and rather focus on arranging small meetings in every ward.
The TMC, which in 2015 had won 125 out of the 144 wards in the KMC, has denied tickets to 39 sitting councillors this time. TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said party supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will address two public meetings in the city as part of KMC poll campaign.
Responding to TMC’s diktat for candidates, state BJP president Sukanta Majumdar said this only goes on to show how elections are conducted in TMC regime. “It proves that allegations of vote rigging and violence are completely true,” he said.
Senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty wondered whether the instructions will find resonance on the field. “The instructions issued by the TMC establish the fact that the TMC used strong-arm tactics in the past to win elections. But we doubt these instructions will find any resonance on the ground,” he said.