Siliguri, Sept. 8: The Congress plans to place its budget for voting at a Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) board meeting on September 14, sources in the civic body have said.
An SMC councillor of the Congress, who did not want to be named, said: “The deputy mayor (Sabita Agarwal), who is functioning as the chairperson and will continue to do so for a month or till the new chairperson is elected, has called a special board meeting on September 14. We expect both the Left and Trinamul councillors to be present at the meeting. Our councillors and MMICs would obviously attend it.”
The chairman’s post fell vacant with Nantu Paul’s resignation.
Paul, who had got elected to the SMC on a Congress ticket but switched to Trinamul, faces an anti-defection case against him.
The Left Front, which is in the Opposition in the SMC, filed the case in Calcutta High Court.
Paul’s presence in the SMC as the chairman sparked the impasse because the Left and the Congress refused to attend monthly board meetings.
The Congress, which was also against Paul’s election as chairman, failed to pass the budget for the current fiscal in March-end. The Left abstained from the voting and Trinamul, which had 15 members, withdrew from the board. The Congress has 14 members in the board.
The Left had said it would attend the House only after Paul quits.
Since March, the SMC commissioner has been running the board based on instructions from the state municipal affairs department, in the absence of a budget.
“Now that Nantu Paul is no longer in the chairman’s seat and Trinamul has equal number of councillors like us (the Congress), it has been decided that the mayor would again place the budget for voting. Given the present state of affairs, it is important that the budget is passed so that the civic board can take up pending work,” the Congress councillor said today.
“At the meeting, in all likelihood, the budget would be placed again for voting. The mayor, while addressing the councillors, would request them to support and pass the budget to resume development work in the city in the interest of its residents.”
The decision to place the budget for voting, even though the Congress is heading a “minority” board, is a correct political decision, sources said.
“So far, there are enough indications from the Left that they are disinclined to table a no-confidence motion against the Congress board. So, there is a chance that the Left might criticise some points of the budget and seek some amendments but eventually, would extend its support,” a political observer said.
“Trinamul would be in a tricky situation. In case it votes against the budget, the Congress and Left will have the opportunity to campaign that the party is acting detrimental to the interests of Siliguri residents. Further, even if Trinamul councillors vote against the budget, the budget can still be passed provided the Congress board gets support of the Left,” an SMC source said.
“We will soon hold a board meeting, which can be held in the coming week. Whatever I have to say, I will say at the meeting. All I can say is that the meeting would be called to take up several important issues related to the civic body, its functioning and for better civic services to citizens,” mayor Gangotri Datta said.