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By A Newsman

Siliguri, 02 January: LONGEVITY of the Left-ruled Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) board has come under strain after a Congress councillor suddenly stepped down from the post of a borough chairman.

This is because Congress has been extending support to the Left in running the civic body. In lieu of this, the Left-ruled board allocated the post of SMC’s borough no 3 to Congress.

But Congress councillor from ward no 16, Sujoy Ghatak, suddenly stepped down as borough chairman today afternoon. He alleged that the Left-ruled board was discriminating Congress councillors as regards allocation of development funds.

“We have been facing this problem for the past 07-08 months and discussed the same with the Mayor several times but to no avail. Hence, I have stepped down as borough chairman,” Ghatak, who has been a good Youth Congress organiser, said after tendering his resignation to SMC commissioner.

“This is my personal decision. As regards our continuing external support to the board, a decision on this would be taken by the party,” he added.

Ghatak’s rebellion could bring in doom for the Left-ruled civic board. In the civic polls held in 2015, out of 47 seats, Left had wrested 23, Trinamool 17, Congress 04, BJP 02, and one seat was won by Independent.

Left parties subsequently formed the board with the external backing of the Independent councillor Aurobinda Ghosh and the Congress. But last year, a Left councillor defected to Trinamool and the Independent councillor Ghosh passed away.

Now, in the changed circumstances, Left’s strength is 22 and Trinamool’s is 18. With Sujoy Ghosh of Congress turning a rebel, if Trinamool succeeds in luring the four Congress councillors then its strength would be equal to the Left.

Mayor and Siliguri MLA Ashok Bhattacharya is however still putting up a brave face and is not even willing to discuss the matter with Sujoy Ghatak.

“We will have a discussion with the Congress leadership; I hope they would not do anything that would strengthen Trinamool. As regards, Sujoy’s resignation as borough chairman, we will ask him to reconsider the same,” Bhattacharya said.