STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Siliguri, 4 September
The Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) chairman, Mr Nantu Pal, today formally quit as a councillor and the SMC chairman, fuelling speculations over the political equations in the corporation in the aftermath of the resignation. Mr Pal put in his papers to the civic body commissioner, Mr P D Pradhan.
The normal functioning of the corporation has been  paralysed ever since he switched over from the Congress to the Trinamul Congress in September last year.
With Mr Pal having resigned, the number of councillors is the same for both the Congress and Trinamul Congress ~ 14.
The Left Front enjoys support from 17 councillors in the 47-member SMC body.
Mr Pal, who started his political career in the CPI-M, is known for switching sides. He was elected councillor from ward no-11 on a Congress ticket in the 2009 civic body election.
"I have quit for the sake of Siliguri&’s development. It was a huge embarrassment for me as the Congress and the Left Front councillors kept on boycotting the monthly board meetings, citing my continuance as the chairman,” he said.
Defending his decision to join the Trinamul Congress, he said it was for facilitating development of the town. “The new state government is development-friendly,” he stated.
Slamming the present Congress-led civic board, he said it has failed to even provide the basic amenities to the people.
“The stalemate was compounding matters to the woe of the common people,” he said.
“However, if the party asks me to contest again  I would do so,” he said, adding that he had talked to the chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee and All India party general secretary Mr Mukul Roy over the issue while they were in Kalimpong and Siliguri. It is learnt that the party leadership had asked him to quit.
The Congress has hailed the development as a moral victory for the party. “He quit to be spared the humiliation of being disqualified by the Calcutta High Court that was scheduled to pronounce its ruling on the matter tomorrow. The Anti-defection Law was haunting him and there was no way out for him but to step down. From now onwards we would attend the board meetings with the impediment having been rid off,” said the mayor, Ms Gangotri Datta.
"I will ask Mr Pradhan to announce the post of the chairman as vacant. The department will take up steps for the election in due course," she added.
It is learnt from the Congress insiders that the
deputy mayor Mrs Sabita Devi would officiate as an interim chairman for one month.
The Opposition leader at the SMC, Mr Nurul Islam, also said the Left Front councillors would attend the board meetings following Mr Pal&’s
resignation.