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Board fate hangs on civic chair claim

Malda, June 3: The hung verdict in Englishbazar has cast a cloud on the board formation with the Trinamul Congress making it clear that it wants the chairperson’s post in exchange for the support it is willing to extend to the Congress.

The Congress has bagged 10 of the 25 seats, while Trinamul has only four councillors.

In the previous board, Trinamul had four councillors and the Congress eight. But Mamata Banerjee’s party then had not hankered after the chairperson’s post. Narendranath Tiwari of the Congress had been made the head of the municipality.

This time, the Congress, which needs three more councillors to form the board on its own, is determined not to part with the chairperson’s post. The party had projected its MLA from Englishbazar Krishnendu Chowdhury for the post during the May 30 polls.

“Nomination of the chairman depends entirely on the discretion of district Congress president and Malda South MP Abu Hashem Khan Chowdhury. He is now in Delhi and is expected here within a day or two,” said Chowdhury who won from Ward 10.

State Congress working president Pradip Bhattacharya said in Calcutta that it was only normal that the party with the most seats would nominate the chairperson. “Englishbazar, however, is one of the few exceptions where local politics and equations play a role in the formation of civic board.”

But the outgoing vice-chairman of the municipality and a district Trinamul leader, Babla Sarkar, said Englishbazar needed a “full-time” chairperson since the “workload” would be quite high now, apparently hinting at the MLA’s prospect.

“Everything is being monitored by our state leadership. Union minister of state for shipping Mukul Roy, our party’s in-charge for Malda, is in touch with Kotwali (Khan Chowdhury’s residence in Malda),” Sarkar said.

Denied the chairperson’s post, Trinamul is ready to sit in the Opposition, Sarkar said. “If the Congress does not honour our demand, the only option they have is to form the board with the BJP’s three councillors. But that is not possible in the present situation,” he argued.

BJP councillor Amlan Bhaduri said they would do all that would be required to form an “anti-Left” board.

Jiban Moitra, the district secretary of the CPM, said the Left Front would participate in the election to the chairperson with eight councillors. “No single party can form the board on its own. So, what is the harm if we contest for the post?” he said.

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