TT, Siliguri, Aug. 4: Gautam Deb today spoke of “major changes” in Siliguri Municipal Corporation and Mahakuma Parishad this month, sparking speculation that Trinamul would try to topple the two Left-run boards through defections.
“There will be major changes in the boards in the SMC and SMP in this month,” Deb told journalists while leaving a Trinamul Chhatra Parishad convention at Kanchenjungha Stadium today.
He said it was just “a matter of time now” and hinted that some councillors were unhappy with the lack of civic development in Siliguri.
Political sources in Siliguri said Trinamul was in informal talks with councillors and the rural leaders of rival parties to grab both the boards.
Deb today ridiculed the Siliguri model, an Asok Bhattacharya brainchild of an informal alliance with the Congress to keep out Trinamul that clicked in Siliguri.
“The so-called Siliguri model will be dumped nowhere else but here in Siliguri,” Deb said.
When reminded that rules do not allow the tabling of a no-trust motion in the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad unless a board completes two-and-a-half years, Deb said: “We are aware… All we can say is that, keeping the laws and rules in mind, we are making appropriate effort to change these boards.”
He also remarked that no such restriction exists in the case of the SMC.
Elections to the civic body and the three-tier Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad area were held last year. Both were bagged by the Left.
In the SMC, the Left got 23 of 47 seats, Trinamul 17, Congress four, BJP two seats and an Independent got one seat.
The Left formed the board by getting the Independent councillor on board.
In the SMP, the Left secured six of nine seats while three seats went to Trinamul.
“If Trinamul intends to secure the boards in both these bodies, it needs support of seven more councillors in the SMC (to cross the half-plus-one mark) while in the SMP, it needs support of two more members,” a political observer said.
The Darjeeling district Trinamul president, when asked how they will manage to secure even the minimum majority, was brief in his reactions.
“A number of elected representatives in lower tiers of panchayats have joined our party in the Siliguri subdivision. Trinamul now has majority in 10 panchayats (out of 22 panchayats) and in the Phansidewa panchayat samiti. We will also secure majority in Khoribari panchayat samiti soon,” he said. “In a similar manner, elected representatives in the SMC want development and if they make necessary decision (to change the board), there will be a change.”
“People across Siliguri have seen that the current civic board has failed to provide basic amenities to them. Those running the board are only busy raising baseless allegations against the state government that the civic body is being deprived. I have all necessary information ready with me and shortly I will publish a white paper to prove that the allegations made by them are wrong. We will also prove that since 2011, the state has paid more money to the civic body here, vis-à-vis, the funds paid to SMC during the Left rule when the present mayor was the state municipal affairs minister,” Deb said.
Such open assertion by the district Trinamul president, party insiders said, is because informal talks with councillors of other parties have started.
“A major section of people in town is disappointed with the regular hiccups even in bare minimum civic services. Right from drinking water to collection and disposal of garbage, there are frequent disruptions. The services were much better when administrators ran the board. As a result, councillors are often confronting unpleasant questions from residents,” an insider said.
“Under such circumstances, some councillors might try to explore the option of getting the ruling party at the board so that civic services can be improved. It is here that our leaders are focusing now.”
The district president of Trinamul also spoke on the formation of the Darjeeling district committee. As the party failed to secure even one seat in the district at the state polls, the district committee was dissolved. “A meeting of party’s policy body would be held on Saturday. After the meeting, the state leaders are likely to make the decision on the Darjeeling district committee,” Deb said.
Darjeeling district Left leaders have criticised Deb’s remarks. “Trinamul leaders are resorting to unethical means and are desperate to grab these local bodies. They are blatantly violating the people’s mandate. People here have voted against them and elected our candidates. The leaders will never succeed in their intentions, both in SMC and SMP,” Jibesh Sarkar, the Darjeeling district CPM secretary, said.
“There are reports that particularly in the rural areas of Siliguri, leaders of the ruling party are luring and intimidating our leaders and asking them to switch to Trinamul,” he added.