Days after Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation (BMC) Mayor and Trinamool Congress leader Sabyasachi Dutta took part in an agitation against the West Bengal government, the party on Sunday stripped him off his mayoral powers for “making anti-party statement”.
The decision was taken at an emergency meeting of BMC councillors, which was chaired by senior TMC leader and Municipal Affairs Minister Firhad Hakim. Dutta was not invited at the meeting, where it was decided that Deputy Mayor Tapas Chatterjee will discharge the duties of the Mayor till a decision on Dutta’s fate is taken by party chief Mamata Banerjee.
The BMC, which covers Salt Lake and its adjacent areas, has 41 councillors and 39 of them belong to the TMC. A total of 37 TMC councillors attended the Sunday meeting.
Sources said the councillors were of the opinion that Dutta be removed as the mayor of the civic body. But Hakim left it for Mamata Banerjee to decide on Dutta’s fate.
“I will hope that those who are in TMC will maintain discipline in the party. If anyone does not want to maintain discipline, then there is a disciplinary committee in the party which will take the final fall. We are awaiting a directive from our party chief (Mamata Banerjee). We will act according to her directive,” Hakim told reporters after the meeting.
Asked to comment on whether any action would be taken against Dutta, Hakim said, “I have come here as an observer to give my opinion. I do not want to break my discipline by divulging details of the meeting.”
Before the meeting, party councillor Sudhir Saha said, “We have only one thing to say that Dutta should be removed. We have tolerated a lot and he has not done anything for the people. He got the opportunity to work but failed to carry out development works.”
Sources said several councillors proposed Tapas Chatterjee’s name for mayor post, but Hakim said a decision on it will be taken by party chief.
Chatterjee, a veteran CPM leader of Rajarhat-Newtown area, had switched over to the TMC in 2015.
Meanwhile, Dutta, who had taken part in an agitation against the state’s power department and slammed the government for not fulfilling the employees’ demands for increasing salaries, rejected the charge of making “anti-party statement”. “I have followed on the footsteps of Mamata Banerjee. She had started an agitation in Singur when she was an Opposition leader to fight for the rights of farmers affected by Nano car factory. She has always asked us to work to protect the interest of the people. I have only followed her direction. I do not want to belive what is being said in the media,” he said.
When inquired about his meeting with Roy, Dutta said, “Mukul da is just like my elder brother. He is aware of the political developments. So, he just came to inquire about my well-being and future plans. It’s a courtesy visit,” the PTI quoted him as saying.
Roy, however, declined to give a direct reply on whether Dutta would join the BJP in the near future.
“Only time will say whether he will join the BJP or not. But being elder brother, I would surely want for his well-being and good,” said Roy, who had earlier come out in support of Datta, calling him “a very popular leader” and “helpful to the BJP”.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh said, “It is their (TMC’s) internal matter. Maybe there is a sense of fear that they might lose the civic body and that’s why such things are taking place.”
However, this is not the first time that Dutta has irked the party leadership.
Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Roy met Dutta at the latter’s residence which had raised speculations of his switch over to the BJP. Dutta had described it as a “courtesy meeting”. Following this, Mamata Banerjee had asked Hakim and state minister Jyotipriya Mullick to convene a meeting of BMC councillors to discuss the matter. Dutta had then apologised for hosting Roy at his residence.
On July 10, a board meeting will be held at BMC to decide whether to bring a no confidence motion against Dutta.