Despite the wave in favour of the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), the ruling party leadership here has failed to control resentment against the selection of candidates who could contest the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) elections.
Political observers have said that the ruling party candidates could “suffer” when people have made up their mind to bring in development through the SMC in association with the state government, if the squabble continued. Notably, some former councilors like Nikhil Sahani, Durga Singh, Satyajit Adhikari, Rabi Roy and Chandrani Mondal were denied party tickets this time around. As a result, discontent has grown in the party, party sources said.
The matter came to the fore this morning after hundreds of TMC supporters blocked the road at Bharat Nagar under Ward 24 in Siliguri. They demanded that the party field their leader Bikash Sarkar instead of Pratul Chakraborty, a veteran Trinamool leader. As the TMC yesterday released the list of candidates, it nominated Mr Chakraborty for ward 24, where the BJP has fielded Siliguri MLA Shankar Ghosh as the main face of the party with a view to beating both the TMC and the CPI-M.
Interestingly, angry local TMC supporters said that the elderly candidate, Mr Chakraborty, would not be able to serve the people properly as a councillor. “We would not vote him,” they said in unison today. They also asked Bikash Sarkar, who came to the spot, to contest the SMC polls as an Independent candidate. Asked to comment, Bikash Sarkar, who is allegedly close to former Tourism Minister Gautam Deb, said: “I have not yet decided on anything.”
Mr Sarkar, who was seen weeping as he was with his followers, was show- aused by the new TMC president here recently, for his alleged misbehaviour with party leaders and even the Siliguri MLA Shankar Ghosh.
On the other hand, locals, mainly slum dwellers, in Ward 18, staged a demonstration against the party’s decision to nominate a new candidate, by rejecting the appeal of an aspirant, Nikhil Sahani, who was elected as councillor twice. He was also a borough chairman and coordinator for the SMC.
His followers requested Mr Sahani to contest the elections as an Independent candidate “just to teach a section of TMC leaders, who have proposed the party to nominate another candidate here, a lesson.” Asked to comment, Mr Sahani said: “I never thought my candidature would be denied. Still, I do not know the reasons behind it. I think my party president and my local leader Gautam Da would reconsider my candidature. If they do not reconsider it, I will inform the media of my next move tomorrow.”
He also expressed unhappiness at the induction of some former councilors, belonging to other parties with assurances of party tickets, and that all of them had managed get party tickets yesterday. Expressing unhappiness at the nomination of Sanjay Sharma for ward 18 and Khushboo Mittal for ward 8 and two others, a party insider alleged that a Kolkata-based MLA, associated with the party’s Hindi Cell, in his recent visit to Siliguri, had allegedly made a “financial deal” for confirmation of party tickets for some candidates.
Apart from ward 18, people belonging to ward 28 are also not happy with their party candidate. Political observers identified several wards like 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 15, 18, 20, 24, 33, 35. 39 and others including ward 41, where either TMC leaders or TMC supporters would go against party candidates. “As of today, the wave is in favour of the ruling party Trinamool Congress and both the Left and the BJP would bag only below or just above 10 seats. But in the coming days, if the TMC fails to manage rebel leaders and the resentment, other political parties would earn political dividends,” said Siliguri-based former and veteran CPI-M activist, B Mitra.