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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

TMC wins no-trust motion in Bengal’s Bongaon civic body, BJP cries foul, rushes to the High Court

BJP approached the Calcutta High Court alleging its previous order to ensure security for all councillors till the conduct of no-trust motion was not followed by the administration.

india Updated: Sep 05, 2019 19:06 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
BJP West Bengal President Dilip Ghosh claims that the TMC defeated the no-trust motion in Bongaon municipality with the use of muscle power and strong-arm tactics.
BJP West Bengal President Dilip Ghosh claims that the TMC defeated the no-trust motion in Bongaon municipality with the use of muscle power and strong-arm tactics.(HT PHOTO/File)

The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Thursday defeated the no-confidence motion moved by the rival BJP in Bengal’s Bongaon municipality, conducted at the office of the North 24 Parganas District Magistrate under the instructions of Calcutta High Court to ensure that the process was peaceful and fair.

While 14 TMC councillors expressed their trust on the Municipal board led by chairman Shankar Addhya, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) councillors stayed away from the voting.

“According to the direction of Calcutta High Court, the DM conducted the meeting. The no-confidence motion was rejected. No councilor voted for the no-trust motion,” said Shankar Addhya, the chairman of Bongaon municipality after the vote.

“Today’s vote proves the BJP was trying to mislead the court and wasted its time,” said Kolkata mayor and urban development minister Firhad Hakim.

On Thursday, there was heavy police deployment at the DM’s office. None except the employees and the councillors who would participate in the vote were allowed to enter. Even the councillors had to deposit cellphones before entering.

While the voting was taking place on Thursday, a section of the BJP councillors filed a petition in the Calcutta High Court alleging the process did not follow the court’s orders passed on August 26, and was, therefore, illegal.

“The court had said (on August 26) that the administration has to provide security to the councillors and they have to be brought to the DM’s office on the day of voting. But the administration failed to comply with that order, and therefore, we moved court,” said Bongaon North legislator Biswajit Das, who is overseeing the Bongaon civic affairs for the BJP.

Das added that the court heard their plea and transferred the case for hearing to a regular bench.

“They (TMC) won with the help of muscle power, strong arm tactics,” remarked BJP’s Bengal unit president, Dilip Ghosh.

The fracas surrounding the vote in Bongaon civic body became the talking point in the state after widely televised chaos and clashes on July 16 culminated in the BJP alleging they were not allowed to enter the chamber to vote in the no-trust motion that they had brought against chairman Addhya.

In a loss of face for the TMC, on August 26, Calcutta High Court not only nullified the trust vote that Bengal’s ruling party won, but also said that a fresh one had to be taken at the District Magistrate’s office under the DM’s supervision.

Debjani Dasgupta, advocate for the BJP, had also said that the court had directed the police chief of the district to ensure security to each of the councillors till the vote.

BJP said in court that on July 16, 11 BJP councillors lost to the ruling party that had the support of only 10 councillors – nine from the TMC and one from the Congress – since the BJP members were prevented from voting.

However, on August 8, TMC gained numerical superiority after four councillors, who had switched to the BJP, returned to their old party.

Bongaon municipality, which is close to the Indo-Bangladesh border, has 22 councillors, 13 of those are with the TMC now and seven are with the BJP. The Left and the Congress has one councillor each.

In the recently-concluded Lok Sabha elections, BJP made deep inroads into Bengal for the first time, winning 18 seats, a nine-fold increase from its 2014 tally of just two. TMC’s seats, on the other hand, dipped from 34 in 2014 to 22.

Following that performance, in June, majority of the public representatives from seven civic bodies – Bhatpara, Halishahar, Kanchrapara, Naihati, Garulia, and Bongaon (all in North 24-Parganas district) and Darjeeling as also of the Dakshin Dinajpur zilla parishad, joined the BJP.

Later, several councillors from Kanchrapara, Halisahar, Naihati and Bongaon municipalities returned, restoring TMC’s majority in these bodies.

First Published: Sep 05, 2019 19:06 IST