Calcutta, June 6: Mamata Banerjee gave Calcutta a new mayor today and gave the new mayor 76 experts to seek advice from.
Sovan Chatterjee, the councillor from ward 131, was, expectedly, crowned the 37th mayor and the first from the added areas of the city. Farzana Alam, less expectedly, became his deputy.
That part, accompanied by an earnest show of democratic procedure, was easy. The tough job was left for Partha Chatterjee, the Trinamul secretary-general, who read out the names of the members of the experts committee with the perseverance of a marathon man.
He did not, however, have the privilege of reading out all the names because 19 more are to be added, according to Trinamul sources.
If Mamata has given Bengal the slogan Maa Mati Manush, she promises to give Calcutta an expert each for each Trinamul councillor. There are 95 of them.
The number of experts is not important, whats important is their expertise, Mamata told reporters. Former mayor Subrata Mukherjee will chair the committee.
Before the list was unveiled, Mamata had mentioned that she wanted representation from all walks of life.
She found place for a former footballer, a hockey Olympian, business representatives, doctors, engineers, retired bureaucrats, a retired judge, advocates, academicians, journalists, environment experts, singers, actors, painters, an alternative energy expert and the mother of Rizwanur Rahman, the young man who died an unnatural death.
A civic body official, who retired as a chief engineer, said the composition of the list — not count — surprised him the most.
It is difficult to fathom why an expert committee of the civic body doesnt include a town planner, urban development experts from institutes like the Bengal Engineering and Science University or Jadavpur University, and experts on water supply and heritage conservation.
According to him, as the 10 mayor-in-council members draw advice from experts from specific areas from a pool, they should have been on the list.
Mamata has, however, promised to draft in some more.
She named two probable candidates for the betterment of Calcutta — or rub salt into Buddhadeb Bhattacharjees wounds — proposing to include police commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakrabarti and the director, fire services, if they agreed.
Other experts were, however, not offered a choice as Mamata made it clear after the announcement that they would be contacted in due course by the mayor and his team.
They (the experts) will sit with the board (mayor and his team) and decide on what they will do, she said.
Reactions ranged from bewilderment to shock from some of those named on the committee. Sandip Ray, the film director, said: I wasnt informed that I would be made a member of this committee.
Critical-care expert Subrata Maitra, too, said he was not aware. But if I am approached, I will definitely agree. I have some ideas for the development of Calcutta.
A source in Trinamul said Mamata was confident of getting the experts on board. But the challenge will be getting 95 experts to attend the meetings and arrive at a consensus, said the source.