Calcutta, Oct. 15: The Trinamul Congress today took control of the Krishnagar municipality after its Congress chairman and all 13 councillors switched to the ruling party along with two councillors of the Samajwadi Party.
The en-masse switch ahead of the polls to the 24-member civic body on November 22 signals that Trinamul is eyeing Nadia, a Congress stronghold, to complete its circle of victory in south Bengal.
The ability of the Congress to play the spoiler in Trinamul’s scheme of things in Nadia became clear in July’s rural polls as the Left improved its tally in the gram panchayat level and bagged more panchayat samitis than Trinamul because of a division in anti-Left vote bank.
“The party’s performance in Nadia indicated how the Congress could hurt our prospects. Krishnagar town has always been a Congress bastion and the party had formed the civic board six consecutive times. Today’s defection has weakened the Congress’s organisation,” a senior Trinamul leader said.
Political observers saw a pattern in Trinamul pocketing municipalities run by Opposition parties since it came to power in 2011 and gained in strength in successive elections.
In Nadia’s Birnagar, Trinamul had engineered a similar defection with 10 Congress councillors joining the party and helped it gain control of the municipal board. Similar defections took place in the Cooch Behar and Dhulian municipalities, where Trinamul is now running the boards.
Asim Saha, the Nadia municipality chairman and vice-president of the district Congress, was among those who switched to Trinamul today. Saha and the other councillors joined Trinamul at the party headquarters in Topsia in the presence of the party’s all-India general secretary, Mukul Roy, and municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim.
“We are confident that we will get the Krishnagar municipality this time,” Roy said.
In 2008, the Congress had formed the board with 14 councillors, while Trinamul had eight and the Samajwadi two. All 16 sitting councillors are expected to get tickets from Trinamul to contest in the November 22 elections.
“This is a conspiracy by Trinamul to wipe out the Congress,” said Pradip Bhattacharya, Rajya Sabha MP and state Congress president.