Siliguri mayor Asok Bhattacharya has said his party would discuss with the Congress party after the rural poll process is over and see if they make it ally in the Left Front-run Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) board. There had been speculations a few months ago that the Congress may join the board.
However, the matter did not pick pace because of the polls. The SMC board today completed its three years in office. “We had held talks with the Congress earlier on its proposal to join the board. We will sit and hold talks with them after discussions in the Left Front on this issue,” Mr Bhattacharya said.
Party sources said the board would get an extra boost if the Left-Congress combine runs it, especially at a time when attempts are being made by the Trinamul Congress to topple the board. The Left Front has already lost its majority at the SMC when Forward Bloc councillor Durga Singh defected to the Trinamul camp and Independent councillor Arabinda Ghosh died earlier.
Mr Ghosh had extended support to the board and helped the Left reach the magic figure of 24 after civic elections in 2015. The Left now has 22 councillors, while the Trinamul has barely improved on the number from 17 to 18. The Congress has four, and BJP has two councillors.
“We have successfully completed three years at the board, despite continued non-cooperation and economic blockade from the state government. Despite attempts for the past three years, the ruling party has failed to break the board,” Mr Bhattacharya said.
Political analysts, meanwhile, say that some posts of the mayor-in-council (MIC) would be reshuffled if the Congress joins the board. “Some posts have to be given to the Congress then, and for that, a unanimous decision in the Left Front is key, so that it can reach a consensus. The CPI-M party congress has also decided on the understanding with the Congress. So it will pave way for the CPIM to take a decision without much hiccups,” an analyst said.
Mr Bhattacharya said the board performed well in the past three years, “though the state government stalled the legitimate funds of the SMC.” “We relentlessly worked for development with limited capacity, as we were denied funds by the state government. We stood by our principles and did not surrender, did not seek mercy to protect our rights. We feel it is an achievement for us. The board is determined to continue to provide services to the people for five years,” he said.