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Kolkata: Trinamool leader Firhad Hakim has assumed office as the new Mayor of Kolkata. With this, he becomes the 50th Mayor of the city and the first Muslim leader in this post since Independence.

Hakim today defeated BJP’s Mina Devi Purohit in the Mayoral election at Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) by 121:5 votes. Trinamool leader Sovan Chatterjee, whom his party forced to vacate the Mayor’s chair due to the mess in his private life, also cast his vote.

CPI-M and Congress councillors boycotted the election terming it “illegal.” CPI-M has already moved Calcutta High Court challenging the amendment in KMC Act that facilitated Hakim’s election despite not being a councillor.

The next hearing is slated for 17 December, whose outcome will decide the validity of today’s election.

Bengal was once under the rule of Muslim Nawabs and, in pre-Independence era, several Muslim leaders had adorned the chair of Kolkata Mayor, last one being Syed Mohammed Usman from 1946-47.

But post-Independence, Hakim is the first Muslim leader to become the Mayor of Kolkata.

Honouring the majority sentiment of the city and in keeping with the dominant tradition of KMC, Hakim today went to the civic body headquarters donning a dhoti-punjabi and accompanied by wife, daughter, and son-in-law. His usual outfit is pyjama-punjabi.

After being sworn in by KMC chairperson Mala Roy, Hakim urged the opposition not to give importance to his religious identity. “Party has bestowed the responsibility and I will try to deliver with total honesty. You need not take my religious identity into consideration. Judge me by my performance,” he appealed.

Then in his first Press conference as Kolkata Mayor, 59-year-old Hakim announced that citizens opting for plantation on their house premises will get a tax rebate.

“Say if somebody has five cottah homestead land and plants trees on three cottah, then the owner will get up to 90 per cent rebate on property tax,” he explained while making his WhatsApp number 9830037493 public for citizens to send complaints on civic problems.