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Trusted Mamata lieutenant Hakim named Kolkata Mayor again

West Bengal Transport Minister has emerged as one of the most trusted lieutenants of Mamata Banerjee

Written by Atri Mitra | Kolkata |
Updated: December 24, 2021 2:30:53 am
Firhad Hakim with Mamata Banerjee (Express file photo by Partha Paul)

West Bengal Minister Firhad Hakim is going to be the new Mayor of Kolkata.

Four days after sweeping the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) polls, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) declared Firhad as the next KMC Mayor. The decision was taken at a meeting of the newly-elected TMC councillors in Kolkata Thursday, which was chaired by party supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The TMC announced that Atin Ghosh will be Deputy Mayor and South Kolkata MP Mala Roy will be the next KMC Chairperson.

A close aide of Mamata, Firhad, 62, was the Mayor of the previous KMC too.

The TMC declared 13 members of the new Mayor-in-Council. Besides Atin, they include Debashish Kumar, Debabrata Majumder, Tarak Singh, Swapan Samaddar, Babu Baxi, Amiruddin Boby, Mitali Banerjee, Sandipan Saha, Abhijit Mukherjee, Baiswanar Chatterjee, Ram Peyari Ram and Jiban Saha.

The party also announced the new chairmen of 16 KMC boroughs, 9 of whom are women councillors.

Addressing the TMC councillors, Mamata hailed the party’s KMC elections triumph, saying “Even after many forces tried to defame us, people have kept their faith and confidence in us. We are grateful to them.”

Striking a note of caution for the councillors, the TMC chairperson said, “In Trinamool Congress, there is no space for arrogance. You have to work rather than talk which is the habit of BJP and CPI(M) leaders. Their leaders are seen only on television. If any need arises, the party will respond to the Opposition. But you don’t need to project your face on television. You just need to work for the people.”

After being named as the new Mayor, Firhad said, “I want to thank Mamata Banerjee for giving me this opportunity to serve the people of Kolkata again,” adding “We will do our work as suggested by Mamata Banerjee. We have many plans. We have to first implement what we promised in our manifesto.”

In the 19 December KMC polls, the Trinamool bagged 134 out of 144 wards, with the principal Opposition BJP winning just 3 seats. The CPM-led Left and the Congress ended up with only 2 seats each.

Firhad, who won from ward 82, had been appointed as the administrator of the erstwhile KMC board after the previous Mayor-in-Council’s term expired in May 2020 but fresh elections to the civic body could not be held due to the Covid pandemic.

Popularly known as “Bobby da” in inner TMC circles, Firhad is also an MLA from the Kolkata Port seat and holds the Transport and Housing portfolios in the Bengal Cabinet.

After Sovan Chatterjee resigned as the KMC Mayor in November 2018, the Trinamool appointed Firhad as the new Mayor. He thus became the first Muslim Mayor of Kolkata. Firhad’s rise through the Trinamool ranks have been meteoric, even as he has been associated with the party since it was floated by Mamata in 1998.

He was first elected as an MLA from the Alipore seat in Kolkata in the 2009 bypolls. In 2011, when the TMC stormed to power in Bengal after ousting the 34-year CPI(M)-led Left Front government, Firhad, who then won the polls from the Kolkata Port constituency, was made Urban Development and Municipal Affairs Minister.

In the course of her first two terms as the CM, Mamata changed the portfolios of many ministers, but let Firhad retain his portfolios. After Mukul Roy left the TMC to join the BJP in 2019, he emerged as one of her most trusted lieutenants. She again inducted him into her ministry after winning the Assembly polls for the third consecutive time in May this year.

Months before the 2016 Assembly polls, Firhad had landed in a controversy when he was seen allegedly taking bribes in the Narada sting operation. He was questioned by the CBI in the case. Close on the heels of the Bengal Assembly poll results this year, the CBI raided and arrested three TMC MLAs including Firhad, who were remanded in judicial custody for some days. They were subsequently granted bail by the Calcutta High Court.

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