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Trinamul hints at exit from Siliguri board

Siliguri, Sept. 21: The Trinamul Congress today hinted that it would pull out of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, saying the Congress-led civic board had failed to meet the basic needs of the people.

Trinamul’s move to withdraw support in Siliguri comes close on the heels of the party severing ties with the Congress at the Centre.

North Bengal development minister and district Trinamul president Gautam Deb today held a meeting with party councillors here this evening.

A senior councillor said after the meeting that Trinamul would with withdraw support to the civic board and the deputy mayor and member mayor-in-councils of the party would quit the posts. But he said the formal announcements would be made only after the party got permission from the state leadership.

“The mayor is the chieftain of the ship called SMC. But she has failed to meet the basic needs of people in the civic area and could not take a proactive approach to address their grievances. We have joined the board only 13-14 months back and have repeatedly submitted letters and memorandums to her to ensure that the SMC is brought back on the tracks,” Deb said after the meeting.

“We couldn’t bring back the train on the tracks and there is no justification for us to shoulder the responsibility for its derailment. Our councillors today discussed the issue and accordingly, conveyed our decision to the state leaders. We are waiting for their instructions now,” said the minister.

Although Deb didn’t mention officially that they would pull out of the board, Trinamul sources said it was just a matter of time before the party yanked off the plug. “All we need is a green light from the state leaders. All of us are ready to resign from the posts of the MMICs and deputy mayor and withdraw the support to mayor Gangotri Datta. We hope that we will get permission by next Tuesday or so,” said a senior Trinamul councillor.

The meeting also resolved to send letters to the mayor to know what steps she had taken to address the grievances aired by the Trinamul councillors. Trinamul had been out the board when it was formed by the Congress in October, 2009. The Congress’s mayor candidate won the polls with the support of the Left. Two years later, Trinamul joined the board after Deb and some Congress leaders took the initiative to patch up the relations between the two parties.

Out of the 47 seats at the SMC, one is vacant following a councillor’s resignation. While the Congress has 15 councillors, Trinamul has 14. The Left has 17 seats in its kitty.

Congress leaders wondered how Trinamul could speak against the municipal board when it was part of the civic administration.

“It is interesting that even though Trinamul is part of the board, they are blaming the board. If they question our mayor and the MMICs, we would like to ask what the deputy mayor and the MMICs from Trinamul do to meet peoples’ aspirations,” said Shankar Malakar, the Darjeeling district Congress president.

“Mere accusations will not serve the purpose. If somebody decides to walk out of the board, it is his decision and not ours. We have nothing to say on the issue.” The Congress will hold a rally here tomorrow against the state government’s alleged unwillingness to set up the AIIMS-modelled hospital in Raiganj.

Senior party leaders like Pradip Bhattacharya, Deepa Das Munshi, Abu Hashem Khan Choudhury and Malakar will organise the rally from Baghajatin Park.

“We will hold the rally to protest the conspiracy to delay the construction of the super-speciality hospital in North Dinajpur, a project which has been sanctioned by the Centre,” said Malakar.