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Mayor of Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) Asok Bhattacharya knocked on Union minister Venkaiah Naidu’s doors on Wednesday to complain about the step-motherly treatment meeted out to his civic body by the TMC-led state government so far as central funds are concerned.
Terming it a ploy of the state administration to force defection of the members of the civic body to the ruling party, Bhattacharya, in his meeting with Naidu, claimed that all other municipal authorities, except the SMC, were getting their share of funds allotted by the Centre without much delay and hassle. The Siliguri CPM strongman even submitted to Naidu a list of projects stalled owing to paucity of money.
“The TMC government is violating the Constitutional norms that states all municipal corporations should be treated equally by the state. Cash-strapped SMC has not been able to work on several Central projects such as ‘Housing for all’, ‘Amrit’ and ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan because of the funds crunch,” Bhattacharya lamented.
“The tactic is to leave the municipal body or, for that matter, other any other local body in cash crunch till it surrenders to the ruling party.
The trick has been used to take over several other municipalities and other bodies in the state,” he added.
The Mayor said Naidu was surprised over the development. “He said it was unexpected and unfortunate and assured that an explanation would be sought from the minister here,” Bhattacharya added.
Meanwhile, former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee condemned the recent trend of elected members switching political allegiance, branding them ‘traitors’. “People get elected as part of a particular political party and then they just switch over to another party. It has become so rampant these days. These people can only be called traitors and other parties are inducting these traitors. It is dangerous for the state’s democratic set up,” Chatterjee said.