(Top) Lalita Tigga, sabhadhipati of South Dinajpur, and Pushpita Dakua, sabhadhipati of Cooch Behar zilla parishad on Monday. Pictures by Mithun Roy and Main Uddin Chisti
Sept. 9: The Trinamul Congress sabhadhipatis and saha-sabhadhipatis of South Dinajpur and Cooch Behar zilla parishads were sworn in today, marking the party’s debut in the top tier of the panchayat system in north Bengal.
In both the districts, Mamata Banerjee’s party won by an absolute majority wiping out the Left Front.
In both the districts, the posts of sabhadhipatis are reserved for women.
Trinamul won 13 of the 18 seats in South Dinajpur zilla parishad and today Lalita Tigga was sworn in as the sabhadhipati and Kalyan Kundu as the saha-sabhadhipati.
The oath of office was administered by the district land and land revenue officer, Subal Chandra Roy.
“The people have voted us to power with an overwhelming majority and that has added to our responsibilities. The Left Front had put politics above development and the people have suffered a lot. We are going to focus only on development, roads and power and water supply,” Lalita said.
The 40-year-old is a housewife and married to an ex-army jawan. She had served as the deputy pradhan of Damdama gram panchayat after she had won on a Trinamul ticket in 2003.
Kundu, a teacher with the Hili High School, has been with Trinamul since it was formed in 1997.
Mofajjil Hossain of the CPM, who was elected as the leader of the Opposition of the South Dinajpur zilla parishad, said his party would play a constructive role. “We have to play the role of a constructive Opposition. We will not indulge in anything that will hamper development. We shall extend all assistance that the board needs to speed up development,” he added.
The South Dinajpur zilla parishad has been with the Left Front since 1992, when the district of West Dinajpur was bifurcated.
In Cooch Behar, Pushpita Dakua was sworn in as the sabhadhipati and Lalit Pramanik, a high school teacher, took oath as the saha-sabhadhipati.
Pushpita served as the saha-sabhapati of the Tufanganj I panchayat samiti that had been wrested from the Left Front by a Trinamul-BJP alliance in 2008.
“Over the past decades, the CPM-led zilla parishad deprived the people and indulged in corruption. Besides concentrating on development work, we will launch an investigation into the CPM’s dealings and punish those responsible for misappropriating public funds,” Pushpita said.
Trinamul won 27 of the 33 seats of the Cooch Behar zilla parishad this time.
Rabindranath Ghosh, the Trinamul district president of Cooch Behar and the party’s MLA from Natabari, said the overwhelming victory for his party was “historical”. “We are witnessing history today. We have not only dislodged the Left Front from the zilla parishad, but also surpassed its winning percentage by bagging 27 seats. Earlier, there were 27 seats in the zilla parishad and the Left Front has never won more than 16. Our victory percentage was 81 while that of the Left Front had never crossed 55. This shows that the people are all for the development mantra of our chief minister.”