Special Correspondent

KOLKATA: The political significance of elections taking place this Sunday to 81 civic bodies spread across West Bengal, including the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), cannot be overstated. They come ahead of the critical State Assembly polls due next year and are also the first major electoral test for the parties in contention since the Lok Sabha polls last year, considering that they are being held in just short of two-thirds of the total number of municipalities in the State.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made for the polls that are expected to be fiercely contested. Central paramilitary forces have been deployed in several areas to supplement the State police to ensure there is no breach of law and order.

While the battle for control of the KMC has generated much interest here, the outcome in the other 80 municipalities spread over 15 districts will reflect the political choices of the urban voter there. The polls will indicate whether the Left Front has been able to regain lost ground since the reversals it suffered in last year's Lok Sabha polls.

Whether the Trinamool Congress, the State's principal Opposition party, will be able to hold on to its electoral gains in recent elections without the support of the Congress this time round will also be revealed.

The highpoint of the polls is the collapse of the Trinamool Congress- Congress electoral alliance over seat adjustments, particularly for the elections to the KMC.

The alliance had registered a resounding success in the Lok Sabha polls and subsequent Assembly by-elections but the differences between the two parties ahead of the civic polls have found their nominees pitted against each other in more than two-thirds of the 141 wards in the KMC as well as in several of those in the other civic bodies across the districts.

Leaders of the two parties have blamed each other for the alliance failing. The civic polls could well determine the future of relations between Congress and the Trinamool Congress.