AT least 15 Congress councillors from Berhampore Municipality in Murshidabad are set to join Trinamool Congress on Saturday, helping the ruling party take control of the civic body. While Berhampore is state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury’s hometown, he is the Lok Sabha MP from Murshidabad.
On September 9, Trinamool had grabbed Murshidabad Zilla Parishad, which was being run by the Congress. Berhampore Municipality falls come under Murshidabad. Last month, the Congress had also lost the Malda Zila Parishad to the ruling party.
Trinamool observer for Murshidabad, Suvendu Adhikary, had said that by year-end, Congress would not have any local body or municipality under it in the district. Around 20 councillors from Berhampore Municipality are currently camping in Kolkata.
“I don’t know the exact number but we will have enough councillors, including the chairman, to claim a majority in the 28-seat municipality,” Adhikari said. He added that the councillors had formally expressed their willingness to join Trinamool.
While there are 28 councillors in Berhampore Municipality, Congress had won 26 during the last civic polls. Trinamool, on the other hand, had won just one and another seat had gone to an Independent candidate. A party needs support from 15 councillors to run the body.
To add to Congress’ woes, its MLA Manas Bhunia, along with four state unit general secretaries, are likely to join Trinamool on September 19.
The four general secretaries, Ajoy Ghosh, Kanak Debnath, Khaled Ebadullah and Manoj Pandey, had recently written to the Congress high command demanding Chowdhury’s removal as the state party president. “The leaders would be handed over the party flag by Trinamool MP Abhishek Banerjee. After formally joining Trinamool, some senior leaders, including Bhunia, would visit Nabanna to meet the CM over tea,” said a close aide of Bhunia.
Chairman of Congress’ minority cell, Khalid Ebadullah said: “It has become very difficult to sustain here and do our work. It is getting suffocating… Thus, many of us are looking for alternatives.” “They way senior leaders are giving public statements in favour of Trinamool, it was not surprising that they are defecting. They should have done it long ago,” said party MLA Manoj Chakraborty.
Adhikari, when asked if the leaders were being enticed or coerced as alleged by Congress, said: “These elected members have realised that they can participate in the developmental work which Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had initiated in Bengal. The switch over is in accordance to the rules laid down by the Constitution.”