The Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) independent councillor Arabinda Ghosh, who had extended his support to the Left Front to form the board in the corporation, passed away at his Hakim Para residence in Siliguri early Sunday morning. It may trigger a crisis for the Left Front-run board.

The 60-year-old councillor of ward 15, who won the SMC polls as an independent candidate in 1999 and 2004, had joined Trinamool Congress in 2009. However, the former Darjeeling district core committee member, quit the party on 10 June, 2014 as he was not happy with the way the party was being run. He won the civic body polls in 2015 as an Independent.

Ghosh had been battling with cancer for the past few months and had almost become bed-ridden. He is survived by his wife and son.

In the civic body polls, which were held on 25 April last year, the Left Front bagged 23 seats, while the Trinamool Congress secured 17 seats. The Congress bagged four seats and the BJP secured two. The Left Front had reached the magic figure of 24 with Ghosh&’s support. The Left camp suffered a setback after a Forward Bloc councillor switched to Trinamool Congress recently. It helped Trinamool Congress increase its number from 17 to 18 while the number for Left Front has gone down to 23.

According to political observers, TrinamoolCongress will try to seek to topple the board by encouraging defections in their favour.

“The Left board became a minority one following the defection of councillor Durga Singh. The death of Arabinda Ghosh has further reduced the number and Trinamool Congress may try to get other councillors to defect and bring no-confidence motion against the board. At the same time, the Left camp will leave no stone unturned to stop the Trinamool Congress,” said a political observer.

Hundreds of people thronged Ghosh&’s residence since the morning. Political leaders, activists of different parties rushed to his residence to pay their homage. State tourism minister Gautam Deb broke down while recalling his association with Ghosh. “He had been my childhood friend. It is a personal loss. We had worked together. We had shared many issues. There was difference of opinions but that never had any impact on our relationship,” said Deb.

Deb postponed his party meeting on Sunday.

Ghosh was associated with the Naxalite movement between 1969 and 1975.

His body was brought to SMC, where mayor Asok Bhattacharya, chairman Dilip Singh, leader of the Opposition at SMC Nantu Paul, Darjeeling district Left Front convener Jibesh Sarkar, councllors of Left Front, Trinamool Congress, Congress and BJP paid their last respects by offering garlands.

Bhattacharya said, “He was a kind of person who never compromised with values and principles. It was not only the loss of the SMC but Siliguri as a whole.”