Brewing tension between the Left in Silguri and the Mamata Banerjee government is expected to come to a head on Saturday when Siliguri Mayor Ashok Bhattacharya will be leading a delegation of his councillors to meet Governor KN Tripathi to apprise him of alleged financial impediments being imposed by the state government on the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC).
Bhattacharya has been alleging that the state government had not released funds to SMC since before the Assembly elections. However, the matter reached boiling point earlier in September when Bhattacharya accused the TMC government of harbouring a “vindictive attitude” towards Opposition-controlled municipalities and imposing an “economic blockade” on them.
“The agenda of TMC is very clear, they want to take over all Opposition-controlled municipalities either by force or by money power. So the first step is to put an economic blockade. Either you switch allegiances to TMC or you won’t be getting any funds from the state government,” said Bhattacharya.
The Siliguri mayor alleged that the “informal financial embargo” has been placed on SMC since they came into power in 2015. He added that recent demonstrations by TMC had led to inaction by the Siliguri metropolitan police when he was prevented from entering his own office chambers. On September 12, a group of Trinamool workers and leaders had stopped Bhattacharya from entering SMC premises for around two hours, alleging that the civic board had failed to restore drinking water supply. Party leaders said that the Left Front would also organise a march from Mallaguri More to the police commissionerate on October 4 to protest the “police inaction”.