IN A rare show of unity, the Opposition Left Front, Congress and BJP councillors staged a protest at Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) headquarters in the city and demanded resignation and arrest of Trinamool Congress MLA and Mayor Sovan Chatterjee and Deputy Mayor Iqbal Ahmed, who have been named in the CBI FIR in Narada sting operation case.
The Opposition staged a walkout from the monthly House meeting of KMC and started shouting slogans against the mayor and displayed placards. The monthly House meeting was adjourned soon after the walkout. Despite having ideological differences, the Opposition parties came together and staged a united protest against the ruling Trinamool Congress. BJP councillor Vijay Ojha said it was they who started the protest.
“We first went to the KMC chairperson and said that since the mayor’s name featured in the CBI FIR, he has no moral right to remain in his post. We demanded his resignation. Soon, other Opposition councillors joined our protest. The TMC councillors tried to stop our agitation and heckled our councillors. Later, we went outside the House to continue our agitation,” Ojha told The Indian Express.
With ruling Trinamool Congress councillors trying to silence the protesters, Left Front, Congress and BJP councillors rushed to the Well of the House with placards and banners, demanding resignation of the mayor.
CPM councillors Mritunjoy Chakraborty and Ratna Roy Majumdar rushed to the seat of the mayor, blew whistle and raised a red card in a symbolic gesture akin to a referee sending a player off the ground in a football match. Trinamool councillors tried to block both the Left Front councillors and in the process, tore off a banner held by BJP councillor Meena Devi Purohit. The Opposition councillors also marched up to the mayor’s and KMC chairperson’s rooms raising slogans.
Later, Congress councillor Prakash Upadhyay and other Left Front councillors alleged that chairperson Mala Roy was not conducting the House meetings in an impartial way and not allowing the Opposition councillors to raise their issues. BJP councillor Ojha said there was nothing wrong in staging a united protest inside the House on specific issues.
“Our strength is limited in KMC. BJP has only five councillors and this is an issue which concerns all of us. There is nothing wrong in holding a joint protest on such specific issues,” he said.
Congress councillor Upadhyay said it was a spontaneous protest by Opposition parties against the Trinamool Congress. “This kind of protest by all does not follow the parameter of any political ideology. It was a spontaneous protest. If anyone wants to join us and fight on the same issue then we cannot say no to them. At the end of the day it was the reflection of people’s anger towards the city mayor and he must tender his resignation,” Upadhyay said.
Meanwhile, Youth Congress members staged a protest outside KMC headquarters and burnt effigies of the mayor and deputy mayor.