Purulia district administration has deferred forming the Jhalda municipality board and has not even announced a date for it reportedly to avert tension in the town as police have in eight days failed to crack the case of murder of Congress councillor Tapan Kandu.
Kandu was gunned down by unidentified goons on March 13 evening when he was out for a stroll with his wife. Police have made hardly any breakthrough in the case apart from arresting nephew Dipak Kandu, who had fought the civic poll against his uncle and lost.
Senior officials said boards will be formed at two other municipalities of the district — Purulia and Raghunathpur — on March 23 but the decision on Jhalda was on hold.
“The murder of Tapan Kandu has sparked off public ire and there is chance of breach of law-and-order if the board is formed now. We hope the police are able to crack the case soon and the board formation process is completed within the set time,” said a senior official in Purulia.
Under the rule, municipal boards for all the civic bodies where election was held on February 27 has to be formed within April 7.
Trinamul sources said board formation in Jhalda had become a major issue for the party’s image as Opposition parties have linked the councillor’s murder to the ruling party’s bid to get control of the municipality, where polls did not throw up a clear winner.
The 12-member Jhalda municipality had been under the control of the Congress for the past three decades. In the February 27 election, Trinamul and Congress had won five seats each and two went to Independents. One of the independents has already joined Trinamul.
Congress leaders said if the government forced formation of the board before a bypoll to Kandu’s ward, the reason of the murder would become clear.
“After the murder of our councillor, it has become easy for the Trinamul to grab power of municipality. They have the support of six councillors, while five are with us. Before announcing the date for formation of the board, we demand the government hold a bypoll for the ward from where Tapan Kandu had been elected. Else it would be proved the murder was part of the plan to grab Jhalda municipality,” said Nepal Mahato, former MLA and veteran Congress leader.
Trinamul leaders, however, said they wanted to form the board before the time set by the state election commission.
“It is the duty of the administration to call a meeting to select or elect the chairman. We want the board to be formed before April 7,” said Soumen Belthoria, Trinamul president in Purulia.
However, a senior Trinamul leader in Purulia said the party would wait for a few days in the hope that the police would arrest the murderers.
“The people of Jhalda would not take it well if we form the board before the murder case is solved. So, we are waiting for a few more days,” said a ruling party leader.
On Monday, Mithun Kandu, another nephew of the slain Congress councillor who had raised questions on role of the inspector in-charge of Jhalda in the murder, was summoned in Purulia for interrogation. Several others, including former chairman and a Trinamul councillor, were also interrogated on Monday by Purulia police.
Kalna civic board
The board formation process of Kalna municipality will start “very soon”, said Trinamul. It was cancelled on March 16 after 12 party councillors out of the 17 elected the chairman by voting against the party nominee.
On Monday, all 17 Trinamul councillors were taken to Calcutta where they met senior leader and minister Aroop Biswas. East Burdwan Trinamul president Rabindranath Chatterjee and minister Swapan Debnath attended the meeting.
“All the elected councillors have agreed to support the party nominee and would not differ from the party's decision anymore. We will form the board in Kalna municipality very soon,” said Chatterjee, Trinamul’s East Burdwan president.