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Mayor purge after assault

Calcutta, June 9: Seven members of Subrata Mukherjee’s mayor-in-council today manhandled the municipal commissioner in his chamber, forcing the mayor to dissolve his team of 10 in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation and taking the Trinamul Congress to the brink of a split.

This is the first time in the three-year lifetime of the Trinamul-controlled corporation that such an incident has taken place. The rebel seven are believed to have pulled Debasis Som out of his chair and assaulted him after he refused “to take orders from them”.

A fuming Mukherjee — rattled by what political circles claim was an unconcealed challenge to his authority — tonight announced his decision at a hurriedly called news conference: “The mayor’s 10-member council as you all have known in the past three years ceases to exist from this moment.

“I had selected them to assist me and my officers in discharging our responsibilities. I shall bring in new faces and retain a few of the old ones to set up a new council.” The council functions as the mayor’s ministry.

Trouble began around 1.15 pm when the seven members, mayor-in-council — Anup Chatterjee, Mala Ray, Pradip Ghosh, Samsuzzaman Ansari, Moinul Haq Chowdhury, Swapan Samaddar and Javed Khan — barged into Som’s room. They had asked Som to meet them in the conference room to thrash out who was supposed to be taking orders from whom, but he had kept them waiting.

They asked Som on what legal basis he claimed that he was not bound to listen to them. If he was not able to give a satisfactory answer, he would have to go, they added. After a brief altercation, the rebels tried to unseat Som. Then they manhandled him for nearly half-an-hour.

The municipal commissioner — with backing from the mayor and Mamata Banerjee — has filed a first information report against his attackers. New Market police station said late in the evening it was looking into the charges made by Som.

Mukherjee said the new council would be formed “within a few days after discussions with the leadership”. He said the dissolution decision had been taken after discussion with and approval from Mamata.

The mayor said he might call off his Naples visit because his priority was running the CMC.

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