The beleaguered Bengal Congress on Monday officially wrested Jhalda municipality in Purulia from Trinamul, the triumph coming after a year-long battle in courtrooms and on the streets.
The Congress, with five councillors in the 12-member civic body, got support from two Independents and elected one of them, Shila Chatterjee, as chairperson by voting in secret ballot in the presence of the district magistrate.
Trinamul, with five councillors, also took part in the court-monitored poll process.
On Friday, the high court ordered the election for the chairperson’s post at Jhalda municipality be held on Monday in the presence of the DM.
The court also permanently struck down the notification issued by the state government on December 2 appointing a Trinamul councillor, Jaba Machuar, as a temporary chair, after then-chairman Suresh Agarwal and his deputy Sudip Karmakar resigned in the face of a no-confidence motion brought by the Congress.
Purulia Congress president Nepal Mahato said Trinamul had “forcefully and illegally” taken over the civic body after murdering Congress councillor Tapan Kandu.
“The ruling party made all illegal efforts to grab the civic body and remain in power... But the court ensured justice and we won the final battle. This will encourage Congress workers across Bengal to combat Trinamul in upcoming political battles,” Mahato said.
Trinamul president of Purulia, Soumen Belthoriaclaimed the voting process was faulty and they had filed a complaint with the DM. “Weare taking legal consultations, and if required, will again move court,” he added.
A large police contingent was deployed outside Jhaldamunicipality since morning and Section 144 of the CrPCwas clamped across Jhaldasince Sunday.
The five Congress councillors and the two Independents reached Jhalda municipality around 11am for voting. Later, five Trinamul councillors arrived. The voting process was over in the afternoon and result declared soon after.
Congress workers, led by Mahato, brought out a victory rally in the town with slain Congress councillor TapanKandu’s photo. “Today his soul will rest in peace,” said Mahato.
Congress state president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said: “Trinamul had to kill our councillor to grab the board and I am thankful to all Congress workers in Jhalda and our district president Nepal Mahato for the victory. Jhalda residents will be happy and it will give a boost to our workers for upcoming battles.”