The Telegraph
Saturday , September 29 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Deb tells mayor to quit, Trinamul eyes post

Siliguri, Sept. 28: Minister Gautam Deb today demanded the resignation of the Congress mayor of Siliguri Municipal Corporation as “she has failed to meet people’s aspirations” amid indications that Trinamul would poach more councillors from its ally and form its own board.

“The mayor (Gangotri Datta) should step down. She has miserably failed to meet people’s aspirations during her three-year period as the mayor,” said Deb, who is also the Darjeeling district president of Trinamul.

“Like the captain of a ship, the mayor is the head of the civic body and cannot shun her responsibilities. She has failed to bring in government funds, deal with corruption and ensure transparency. It is better for her to leave the post,” the minister added.

Trinamul leaders said Deb’s statement was a clear message to the Congress that Mamata Banerjee’s party had initiated moves to grab the civic board.

“As no proactive steps have been taken by the corporation to provide civic services to the people even after the intervention by Trinamul, we feel now it’s time for the mayor to go. Now that the alliance has ceased to exist at the state and the central levels, Trinamul is eager to form the board and bridge the gap created in the past three years. The minister’s demand that the mayor should leave her post is a clear indication of what we are planning to do,” said a senior Trinamul councillor.

Siliguri is rife with rumours that Trinamul will try to become the single largest party at the civic body and form a the board.

“Trinamul has 15 councillors with the switch of Nantu Paul to the party. If Trinamul can somehow get three more councillors from the Congress, the party will cross the one-third mark and become the largest party (Left has 17 seats in the 47-member SMC), enabling it to move a no-trust motion against the mayor,” said an observer.

“Once the board is dissolved, Trinamul can stake claim to the mayor’s post as it is the single largest party. If Trinamul is at the helm of the SMC, the Congress cannot afford to stand with the Left and bring a no-confidence motion because of political compulsions,” added the observer.

Being the party in power in the state, Trinamul has another option also to run the show in Siliguri.

“The government can appoint administrators to run the civic body till 2014 when the civic polls are scheduled to be held. These administrators will be picked by Trinamul and the party can make them function according to its agenda and stunt the growth of the Congress,” said the observer.

Asked about the Trinamul charge, mayor Datta said: “I will not indulge in any sort of blame-game. Pradesh Congress Committee chief Pradip Bhattacharya has been told about the entire matter. We are awaiting an instruction from his end.”

But the Congress today said Nantu Paul should immediately relinquish the post of the SMC chairperson and rejected the possibility of more councillors from the party joining Trinamul.

“His crossover to Trinamul wouldn’t have any effect on the Congress. If he really believes in the ideals and policies of Trinamul leader Mamata Banerjee, he should quit the post like her ministers at the Centre had done. We will wait for 15 days and if he doesn’t resign, then we will make it an issue. No other Congress councillor will join Trinamul,” said Sanjay Pathak, a member mayor-in-council and Congress general secretary in Darjeeling district.