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SMC Cong chairman joins Trinamul

Mamata Banerjee and Nantu Paul

Siliguri, Sept. 27: Nantu Paul, the Congress chairman of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, today joined the Trinamul Congress in Calcutta, leaving his former party in the civic board with one member less than Trinamul.

North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb and Paul met chief minister Mamata Banerjee at Writers’ Buildings around 3pm today.

With Paul switching to Trinamul, the number of Congress councillors at the SMC has come down to 14 while for Trinamul, the number has gone up to 15.

Before Paul joined Trinamul, the numbers were the reverse.

The Left Front, which forms the Opposition, has 17 seats while one seat (ward 31), which was with Trinamul, is lying vacant since 2010 when the councillor had resigned.

Paul, who announced that he would join Trinamul at Writers’ in Calcutta today after meeting Mamata, said: “Since the chief minister has initiated an array of development work in the hills and the plains, I was always with her and trying to turn her dreams into reality as a political worker and people’s representative.

“However, there was an alliance between the two parties and I was not confronting any problem to work as a Congress worker. But the alliance no longer exists at the central and state levels and thus, to stand by her in her relentless efforts, I have decided to join Trinamul and do my work.”

Asked whether he would step down from the post of civic chairman — the post is with the Congress as per the arrangement with Trinamul when the latter joined the civic board on July last year — Paul said: “There will be no difference in my work. Wherever I have been working till date, I will continue to do it, unless otherwise instructed.”

Last week, when Gautam Deb had mentioned that Trinamul councillors were ready to walk out of the board and were waiting for instructions from the state leaders, there were speculations that Trinamul might try to get some Congress councillors to obtain majority in the board.

Paul said from Calcutta over phone: “I have always appreciated the chief minister’s commitment to development. The alliance is no longer there. But I cannot leave her at this stage and decided to work with her for development.”

Asked whether some others in the Congress would be following him to Trinamul, said: “I can’t comment on the issue right now.” Deb, when asked, said he welcomed Paul to the party.

Paul, who started his political career in the CPM, is known for switching sides. He is the councillor of ward 11.

“Since 1988, he has been the councillor at the civic board. In 2006, he shifted from the CPM to Trinamul, stayed in the party for a month or so, and then joined Congress. Since then, he was with the Congress and today again, he has shifted to Trinamul,” Congress sources said.