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Ready to contest Siliguri Municipal Corporation polls: Gautam Deb

The SMC has 47 wards, of which 14 are in his Assembly segment

By Our Correspondent in Siliguri
  • Published 4.03.20, 12:32 AM
  • Updated 4.03.20, 12:32 AM
  • a min read
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This is the first time that he has expressed his intention to contest the civic polls, triggering the possibility of a face-off between Deb and mayor Asok Bhattacharya. (Passang Yolmo)

Bengal tourism minister and Trinamul Congress leader Gautam Deb said on Tuesday that he was ready to contest elections to the Siliguri Municipal Corporation.

This is the first time that he has expressed his intention to contest the civic polls, triggering the possibility of a face-off between Deb and mayor Asok Bhattacharya.

“I am ready to contest the SMC elections. I have not spoken to the party supremo but if the Trinamul leadership allows me, I will contest civic polls,” Deb said in the district Trinamul office here.

Deb, who is the MLA of Dabgram-Fulbari Assembly constituency, is also the chairman of a core committee of Trinamul’s four district committees — Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar.

The SMC has 47 wards, of which 14 are in his Assembly segment. For the past few months, he had been consistently holding the “Didi Ke Bolo” campaign initiated by his party across the Assembly constituency. The BJP led by over 80,000 votes in the Dabgram-Fulbari Assembly constituency in the last Lok Sabha polls.

“Directly or indirectly, I have been associated with the civic board here since 1988. Our party workers from a number of wards asked me to contest the polls from their respective areas. However, as the list of candidates is yet to be finalised, it is too early to comment,” said the minister. Deb also said Trinamul planned to release separate manifestos for each of the five boroughs (cluster of wards).

“If we get a chance to form the board, we will resolve the problem of traffic congestions in six months. The renewal of trade licences will be done once in every five years, free wi-fi services would be provided across civic areas and the tax system would rationalised,” said Deb.

In 2015, Trinamul leaders had projected Deb as the probable mayor ahead of the SMC polls if the party formed the board. However, he was pulled out of the contest by the state leadership at the last minute, a move that is considered as one of the reasons that stopped Trinamul short of majority.

“The party had become faceless then. On the other hand, the Left projected Asok Bhattacharya as the mayoral candidate and grabbed the civic board,”,” said an observer.