Outgoing Siliguri MLA Asok Bhattacharya today resigned down as the chairperson of the board of administrators (BoA) of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC). Bhattacharya said he decided to step down as he was contesting the Assembly elections as a candidate for the Siliguri constituency.

The senior CPI-M leader and former mayor of the civic body, Bhattacharya was nominated by the state government to the BoA post after the elected SMC board completed its five-year tenure on 17 May last year during the coronavirus pandemic.

Though Bhattacharya resigned as the chairperson, other members of the BoA will remain, it is learnt.

Many are apprehending that basic services offered by the SMC will now come under strain. There are 47 wards under the SMC, and ward councillors are working as coordinators.

The seven-member BoA from the Left parties (former members of mayor-in-council of the elected board), including Bhattacharya, held its first meeting on 17 May. However, a member of the board, Shankar Ghosh, who looked after the health, education, culture and sports departments, switched sides to the BJP this month.

“I have stepped down as the chairperson today. I feel it would not have been wise to continue in the post when I am contesting the elections, and this could have raised questions. The other members will remain in the board,” Bhattacharya said.

He has addressed his resignation letter to the principal secretary of the municipal affairs and urban development, government of West Bengal. Another member and the former chairman of the board, Dilip Singh, who is contesting from the DagramFulbari Assembly segment, is also likely to step down.

Sources said the additional departments have been divided among the five members. While Nurul Islam will be in-charge of the health department, Mukul Sengupta will look after the sports and cultural departments, and Saradindu Chakraborty will look after urban poverty eliviation. Kamal Agarwal will handle the education department and Rambhajan Mahato will be in charge of development & planning, revenue.

SMC commissioner Sonam Wangdi Bhutia said he had received the resignation letter from Bhattacharya and that he would send it to the state government.