A day after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee to step down, the state government on Wednesday mulled options to amend the Kolkata Municipal Corporation Act, 1980, to find his replacement.
The present act allows only a sitting councillor to be elected as mayor of Kolkata. “The government is proposing to bring an amendment which will allow the administration to elect a person who is not a councillor for the post. It is also planning to add a section which will allow the elected person to contest and win civic polls to continue in the position. The amendment might be placed in Assembly tomorrow,” a senior official.
While Chatterjee resigned as state housing and fire and emergency services minister Tuesday, he is yet to step down as mayor. Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim has been given additional charge of the two portfolios.
On Tuesday, Mamata had said Municipal Commissioner Khalil Ahmed will look after operations at Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) till a new mayor is elected. Sources said she wants an “able administrator” who is “well-versed in municipal affairs and civic law” as the new mayor. Hakim and state Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Arup Biswas are front-runners for the post, they added.
Meanwhile, the CM has, according to sources, convened a meeting with sitting councillors of the KMC Thursday to discuss names for the post. Sources said she is likely to ask councillors to share their preferred names before taking a final decision.
Due to the death of a sitting TMC councillor, an election for ward 117 of KMC will be held on December 16. The party is yet to field its candidate for that seat and there is speculation that Mamata might field a candidate of her choice after passing the amendment in Assembly.
Just wait a bit: Sovan
Meanwhile, Sovan on Wednesday said he would resign “very soon”.
Speaking to a Bengali news channel in the evening, he said, “Just wait a little bit, I will submit my resignation soon and you will get to know about it. I will do whatever Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has asked me to do. I will give details of everything at the right time.”
Meanwhile, despite it being a holiday on account of Eid-e-Milad, the KMC was buzzing with activity. Municipal Commissioner Khalil Ahmed, was in his office, as was KMC chairperson Mala Roy.
“I came to my office to do routine work… So far we have not received his (Sovan’s) resignation,” Roy told reporters.