The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata puts mayor on notice

Calcutta, Nov. 9: Mamata Banerjee today served a virtual ultimatum to mayor Subrata Mukherjee, asking him to oust the municipal commissioner and revoke the tax imposed on filtered water within 48 hours.

Asked if he would abide by the decisions taken at a Trinamul Congress meeting, an unfazed Mukherjee told The Telegraph: “I will inform the party within 48 hours whether I can go by the decisions. If I can’t, the party is free to choose someone else as mayor. I want the decisions of today’s meeting in writing.”

Today’s development signals a deepening crisis in the civic body. In the event of Mukherjee resigning along with some of his associates, the Trinamul-controlled board might collapse giving the CPM a chance to wrest control or go for a mid-term election.

Mamata convened an “emergency” meeting of Trinamul councillors, MLAs and MPs from Calcutta this afternoon to discuss “burning issues”. Some of those who attended the session later said there was an attempt to harass the mayor.

A section of the party trained guns on commissioner Debasis Som, describing him as a “stooge” of the CPM. Apparently, the provocation was complaints from a section of councillors and residents in Mamata’s constituency regarding the “sudden hike” in water tax.

“Some councillors came to Mamata’s Kalighat residence to point out that Mukherjee had imposed the levy though he had promised her not to do so. They also told her that he took no initiative to remove Som after he had got five mayor-in-council members arrested in June,” said an MLA from south Calcutta who was present at the meeting.

Seven mayor-in-council members had allegedly assaulted Som after he refused “to take orders from them”.

Mukherjee sat through the session with a stiff jaw. It turned stormy when the Trinamul chief wanted to know why the councillors did not get adequate funds for development. “Don’t you know that funds are distributed only on the basis of specific projects'” the mayor told Mamata.

An MLA junior to him, Tamanash Ghosh, protested against the manner in which he spoke. The mayor left the meeting in a huff after a heated exchange with Ghosh. Before walking out, he told Mamata that he would let the party know whether he will be able to fulfil its demands.

Mamata also asked the mayor to withdraw a circular saying that shops in municipal markets will not be transferred according to inheritance after the death of owners. She ordered a review committee comprising members of traders’ unions of the party to “bring about a balance” in trade licence fees, which were hiked.

“We don’t interfere with the day-to-day functioning of the civic body. But we discuss the policies to be followed,” Mamata later told a news conference.

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