West Bengal Urban Development and Municipal Affairs minister Firhad Hakim was on Thursday elected the new mayor of Kolkata. The appointment was made after Hakim was elected the leader of Trinamool Congress party in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC). MMIC (Health) Atin Ghosh was appointed the new deputy mayor.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had asked for consensus among her councillors for appointing Firad Hakim as the mayor and Atin Ghosh as the deputy mayor.
One of the councillors proposed the names of Firhad Hakim as mayor and Atin Ghosh as deputy mayor and the two were elected unanimously.
According to current laws, a non-councillor could not become a mayor of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. However, the West Bengal Assembly approved an amendment Bill on Thursday paving the way for appointment of a person as KMC mayor who hasn’t been elected as a councillor first.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation Act currently says only an elected member of the municipal council can be appointed mayor. This is being amended to allow a non-councillor to be appointed mayor, with the provision that such a person has to be elected as a councillor of KMC within six months of the appointment.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2018 was introduced in the state Assembly by Municipal Affairs Minister Firhad Hakim himself. He was named for the post of the Kolkata mayor soon after the Bill was passed in the afternoon.
The BJP, represented by lone MLA and party’s state president Dilip Ghosh, extended support to the Bill, which was passed by a voice vote. The Left Front and Congress MLAs were not present in the House as they had earlier decided to boycott the Assembly.
Ghosh, while addressing the House, criticised the ruling Trinamool Congress in the presence of the CM. “We support the Bill, but why are you making a non-councillor as KMC mayor at a time when you have 122 councillors in the civic body? Haven’t you found any suitable candidate for the post of mayor from among these councillors?”
Hitting back, Mamata Banerjee said: “Why did you make Mr Narendra Modi the Prime Minister while you have so many leaders like Mrs Sushma Swaraj, Mr L K Advani and Mr Arun Jaitley in your party? Similarly, why did you make Mr Amit Shah the BJP national president when there are so many others?”
She added: “All our councillors are eligible to become a mayor. But it was necessary to bring the Bill because anyone can fall seriously ill or leave,” said the CM.
“Sovan has resigned as mayor and I thank him and extend my best wishes for him,” she added.
Following directions from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to step down from the post of Kolkata mayor, incumbent Sovan Chatterjee quit from the post on Thursday. He had earlier resigned from the post of housing and fire services minister on Tuesday.
Speaking on the matter, Banerjee said Thursday: “There is no crisis in the party. Sovan, earlier, also tendered his resignation but we did not accept it. But the day before yesterday when he tendered his resignation as minister, we thought that definitely he has some personal problems so he is unwilling to discharge his duties as minister. So I accepted his resignation.”
“You should know that on that day I called him thrice and Bobby (Firhad) spoke to him but he was adamant with his resignation. So I asked him to (also) step down from the post of mayor,” she added.