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CPI helps Cong oust Marxists

Raiganj, Aug. 14: The Congress today dislodged the CPM from the Raiganj municipal board in a no-confidence motion with help from the CPI and BJP.

Deputy magistrate Sanjay Bose declared the board dissolved soon after the Congress proved its majority in the absence of 10 CPM councillors, including chairman Arup Ghosh.

Bose said the district magistrate would call the Congress to form its board in two weeks.

The CPM, which had won nine of the 26 seats, had formed the board in July 2001 with the help of a CPI and three Independent councillors. The Congress, which has 10 councillors, bagged 14 votes today with two CPI and BJP members backing it along with two Independents.

This is the second time in the past month that the Congress has enlisted the BJP’s support to drive the CPM from power in north Bengal. Exactly a month ago, the Congress wrested the Malda zilla parishad from the CPM with the help of the BJP and Trinamul Congress.

Today’s motion, sponsored by the Congress, was held on the ground-floor verandah of the municipal building as the chairman and vice-chairperson’s rooms were locked.

“The CPI, BJP and Independent councillors have supported us unconditionally as they wanted a board that would deliver,” Congress’ North Dinajpur chief Mohit Sengupta said. “The CPM-led board has not done anything in the past two years to solve the civic problems.”

CPM Raiganj zonal committee secretary Dilip Narayan Ghosh said the party would move the court against dissolution of its board. “We don’t recognise this no-confidence motion. It’s illegal. That’s why our councillors stayed away today.”

Ghosh said the CPM lodged a strong protest with the Left Front’s state committee against the CPI for backing the Congress. “They have betrayed us for power and money.”

Milan Chowdhury, the lone CPI councillor, defended his decision to vote for the Congress. “It was an anti-people board right from the start. It’s good that the CPM is gone.”

Chowdhury said the CPM had enlisted his party’s support in 2001 by promising it the vice-chairperson post. “But once, they had their man elected as chairman, they went back on their word and appointed an Independent councillor as vice- chairperson. We got back at them today.”

Srikumar Mukherjee, the CPI minister from North Dinajpur, said Chowdhury was show-caused for supporting the Congress. “We are going to expel him from the party.”

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