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Mayor quits, blames govt for exit

- No corruption in 4G nod: Datta

Siliguri, May 20: Siliguri mayor Gangotri Datta today resigned following the instruction from state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury, a fallout of a wrangling in the organisation over the alleged 4G cable laying scam and the abysmal performance of the party in municipal wards in the Lok Sabha polls.

However, Datta said she was quitting because the state government had hindered the functioning of the civic board.

Bengal PCC president Chowdhury had asked Datta yesterday to dissolve the civic board and prepare for fresh elections.

While handing over the resignation letter to the commissioner of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, Datta announced that the deputy mayor and all seven members mayor-in-council had also put in their papers according to her instruction.

“We could no longer continue at the civic board as the state government had been consistently creating hindrances in our functioning. There has been no co-operation from the state’s side and Trinamul and Left Front councillors have always tried to create inconveniences in the day-to-day functioning of the board.”

“We had sought advice from the district leaders of the Congress and the PCC. According to their instructions, we tendered our resignation today and also dissolved the board. Elections to the SMC should be held immediately,” Datta said after submitting her resignation this afternoon.

Elections to the 47-member SMC were held in September 2009 and Datta was elected the mayor on October 1. The Congress has 14 councillors, while Trinamul has 15 and Left 18 members. The next elections to the SMC are scheduled for September.

Although Datta blamed the Trinamul government for her resignation, her exit was the culmination of a factional war in the Congress which reached its nadir with MMIC Sujoy Ghatak being accused of taking bribe from Reliance Jio Infocomm for giving the company permission to dig up roads to lay cables for 4G service.

“The outgoing mayor and other Congress leaders can criticise the state government, Trinamul and Left to justify the dissolution of the board. But the fact is that Datta has quit as differences cropped up in the Congress over the 4G cable. A section of Congress leaders loyal to Darjeeling district Congress president Sankar Malakar alleged that Reliance should have paid the SMC Rs 12 crore as compensation for digging up roads and Ghatak had settled the amount at Rs 7 crore against a bribe. The mayor has remained silent on the issue for weeks and feigned ignorance,” said a senior Congress leader, who didn’t wish to be named.

“Secondly, Congress’s performance has been poor in all 14 wards of its councillors in the Parliament polls. The party stood second, third, fourth and even fifth in these wards, which means that the next civic polls are going to be tough for the party,” he added.

Datta, however, today said there had been no corruption in the 4G cable laying and the SMC commissioner had deputed engineers to obtain details about the road digging.

As chances are less that another board will be formed by Trinamul or Left, the government will appoint an administrator at the SMC for two-three months. “The administrator might be a Trinamul leader or a bureaucrat close to the party,” said a source.

Trinamul leader Krishna Pal said the Congress had failed in delivering civic services and that was why the party had blamed the state government for the dissolution of the board. He said elections to the SMC would be held “in due course”.

Nurul Islam, the leader of the Opposition at the SMC, said the Congress had run away from responsibilities. He demanded that elections be held immediately.