August 28, 2016 12:49:02 am
Rattled by the recent defection of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation’s lone Forward Bloc member to the Trinamool Congress, the city’s Mayor and senior CPM leader Ashok Bhattacharya said he would approach the Governor with all 22 Left Front councillors to appraise him of Trinamool’s “unethical’’ policy to capture civic and rural bodies.
Durga Singh’s move to the Trinamool has left the Left-Front board in a minority.
Bhattacharya, however, said that he had been assured of support by Congress state president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. “I have spoken to Adhir Ranjan and he has assured me. So we still have the numbers. However, this move was unethical and I will write an open letter to the chief minister in this regard. I will also try and raise this issue in the upcoming Assembly session,’’ he said.
There are 47 councillors in the Corporation. The Congress has four, the Left Front has 22 and Trinamool has, after the inclusion of Singh, 18 councillors. So far, the Congress has not officially extended support to the Left.
Bhattacharya said an order had been issued to remove Singh from the post of member and mayor-in-council (health and parking).
“We also want to disqualify her as a councillor. We will appeal before the authority concerned. She can no longer be a councillor as per the clauses of the West Bengal Municipal Corporation Act (WBMC), 2006.”
However, legal experts said that since Singh was the lone Bloc member, her defection would not result in disqualification.
Under the WBMC Act, if one-third or more elected members of any political party join another party, they will not be disqualified.
Accusing the TMC of “buying off people”, Bhattacharya said, “This is what is happening across the state. No respect is given by the West Bengal government to democratically elected bodies. In the Siliguri municipal corporation, the funds that are supposed to come to us do not come. Therefore, developmental work cannot be carried out. The chief minister has purposely ensured that the Siliguri municipal corporation faces a financial crunch, and does not function properly, simply because she has not won it.
“This is like the United States imposing economic sanctions on Cuba. But Cuba did not cave, and neither will Siliguri,’’ said Bhattacharya.
“She (Mamata), has been railing and ranting at the Centre, accusing them of step-motherly treatment by not giving the state funds. She has been complaining about their interference and their not respecting the federal nature of our democracy. But what about her? What she accuses the Centre of doing to Bengal, she is doing to areas in the state that have not voted her in. She simply cuts off the money,’’ added the Siliguri mayor.
Leader of Opposition in the SMC and Trinamool leader Nantu Paul said that his party now had 18 councillors, and that the “tally will go up in the coming days’’.
Paul said that the people of Siliguri were “fed up with the board’s miserable performance and want a change”.
Bloc leaders and workers had demonstrated and burnt an effigy of Singh in her ward to protest her “betrayal” on Friday. “Residents of the ward are disappointed with her decision. She has failed to articulate a proper reason for quitting the Bloc,” said a local leader. Singh had however issued a statement saying that she had joined the Trinamool Congress to ensure that development takes place.
Meanwhile, in Jalpaiguri district, 10 elected representatives of the party at the zila parishad, including the sabhadhipati, were expelled for joining Trinamool or planning to do so. This week, Trinamool had grabbed the Jalpaiguri zila parishad after six CPM members had joined the ruling party.
Congress leader Manas Bhunia meanwhile said that the fault did not lie with Trinamool for “winning over’” Singh, but with the councilor herself for “being won over”.
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