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Call to end ‘confusion’

Siliguri, July 2: The Trinamul Congress today demanded that the Congress should end the “confusing situation” in the Siliguri Municipal Corporation by “formally” inviting it to participate in the “decision making process”.

“We have expressed solidarity with the Congress-led board in March-end. Though three months have passed, we have not been formally invited by the Congress to support the board,” Gautam Deb, the district Trinamul president, said over the phone from Calcutta.

“Our state leaders have made it clear to us that we should get out of this confusing situation. In Siliguri, everybody is of the notion that the SMC is run by the Congress-Trinamul combine, while we are nowhere in the decision-making process. It is uncomfortable for us and we want to get rid of it.”

Deb, who claimed he had discussed the matter with Union minister Mukul Roy and some state other leaders in Calcutta, said: “It is not possible for us to extend support in such an informal way for an indefinite period,” he said.

On March 30, Deb said, the the Congress had promised that the mayor and the chairperson would step down, the board would be dissolved and then, on the basis of mutual discussion between the two parties, the office-bearers would be re-elected. “But till date, not a single step has been taken by the Congress,” said Deb, who is also the Trinamul leader at the SMC.

Since the formation of the civic board by the Congress, the Left Front has been formally declared as the Opposition party by mayor Gangotri Datta. Trinamul, however, has neither extended its support in writing to the board, nor has it disassociated with it. But there have been instances when Trinamul councillors have opposed the measures taken by the chairperson or the mayor.

The Congress mayor refused to say much on the Trinamul move. “We cannot comment as the decision has to be taken by our party,” Datta said. “We will follow whatever instructions are given to us.”

Observers believe that Trinamul with 14 councillors — one has resigned on Wednesday — wants to mount pressure on the Congress. In case it does not support the board, the Congress will have to seek Left support — like it had done it during the election to the mayor and the chairperson’s posts in October — to save the board. Or else, the board will be dissolved.

“In both cases, Trinamul will reap the benefit. If the Congress listens to Trinamul and asks the mayor and the chairperson to step down, the board will be dissolved automatically. The party can then have a hold on the board ,” an observer said. “On the other hand, if Trinamul withdraws support and the Congress seeks the Left support, Trinamul can highlight the Congress’s alleged hobnobbing with the Left a few months before the Assembly polls.”

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