The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Flip-flop councillors keep front in power

Champdani (Hooghly), Nov. 17: Attempts by the grand alliance of the Trinamul Congress, the Congress and the BJP to wrest the municipality here from the CPM fell through today.

Presiding officer and municipality vice-chairman Kabita Sarkar, a CPI nominee, exercised her casting vote to ensure the Left Front’s victory in the election to the post of chairman after a tie.

The municipal board had passed a no-confidence motion against chairman Gobinda Sarkar of the CPM by 13-9 votes on November 2.

The 11-11 tie in the chairman’s election today indicated that at least two councillors from the mahajot (grand alliance) defected. Sources said one of them was Independent councillor Mehdi Hassan, a front supporter who shifted allegiance to the mahajot and backed the no-confidence motion earlier. Kamalakanta Prasad of Trinamul was the other alleged defector. He had accused the original Trinamul-led board of misappropriating funds.

Trinamul and the Congress had formed the board with the help of a BJP councillor and three Independents following elections in May 2000.

Councillor and district Trinamul leader Pradyut Chakraborty said: “Prasad voted for the front.” He held him responsible for the party’s futile bid to wrest the municipal board from the Left. “Though voting was held through secret ballot, all our councillors, except Prasad, took the party into confidence before casting their votes. Only Prasad kept his vote a secret. We will recommend disciplinary action against him to the district and state leaderships,” Chakraborty said.

The Hooghly-Chinsurah municipality had witnessed a similar turn of events in September when Trinamul failed to wrest the board from the front following a change in the stance of two party councillors on the day of the chairman’s election.

“There is a need to identify the black sheep in the party and drive them out,” said Tapan Dasgupta, a state Trinamul secretary. Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Pankaj Banerjee said tonight: “If a party member helps the CPM recapture a municipal board, we will not spare him.”

Prasad insisted that he was “only fighting corruption in the municipal board as directed by Mamata Banerjee”. “The Congress-Trinamul board remained a spectator to misappropriation of about Rs 2.57 crore. How could I remain indifferent'” he asked.

Gobinda Sarkar, who was re-elected chairman, said the front would provide a “transparent administration”. He was voted out for allegedly misusing funds and neglecting development.

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