Despite the Trinamool Congress sweeping KMC and civic bodies’ elections, it was CPM which managed to emerge victorious in the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) in North Bengal — the most important local body after Kolkata — on Tuesday.
Former Left Front minister Ashok Bhattacharya, who was in charge of elections in Siliguri, is now the mayor-designate for the municipality.
CPM, which has won in 23 out of the 47 seats — six more than Trinamool — in the civic body, needs one more to form the board.
The Trinamool, on the other hand, had fought SMC elections under the leadership of North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb and won 17 wards. While the Congress won four seats, BJP emerged victorious in two.
Though Deb took responsibility for the defeat, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said: “The board in Siliguri was not run by us. Now, Congress has to decide who it wants to support.”
On Tuesday, Bhattacharya told mediapersons: “We are ready to form the board with the support of the only Independent candidate. We do not want to go against the government in any way. Instead, we are seeking its cooperation to run the SMC.”
“I never backed out despite several threats. I was arrested too,” he added.
A few days before the elections, he took out a mega rally, in which he asked all parties to guard the booths to resist outsiders. “I asked all Opposition parties to be alert. I requested the people to be vigilant. I had no problem with people casting their votes for TMC. I only requested them to cast their own votes and resist outsiders from capturing booths,” said Bhattacharya.
In 2009, a Trinamool-Congress had won Siliguri Municipal Corporation in an alliance. But during the formation of the board, the parties could not reach a consensus over the post of mayor and chairman.
This led to chaos in the civic body, prompting Congress leader Gangotri Dutta — who was the mayor — to resign. Since then, no party has formed the board. In 2014, a board of administrator was appointed to run the civic body.