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By A Newsman

Siliguri, 13 August: TRINAMOOL Congress councillors have decided to boycott a national conference on autonomy of local bodies that the Left-ruled Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) is organising in the town on 16 August.

Tagged as “National Level Seminar on Local Self Government, Democracy and Importance of the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments”, the day-long seminar is scheduled to be graced by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, amongst others.

Trinamool’s leader of opposition in SMC, Nantu Pal said that they would boycott the event as despite being organised with the civic body’s funds, the matter was never discussed in SMC’s board meetings. TMC has 17 councillors in the 47 member SMC.

“Asok Bhattacharya (Siliguri Mayor) has taken the decision on his own and only made a mention about this in a board meeting but there have been no elaborate discussion on the matter. Besides this, we do not agree with the topic chosen for the seminar as it is only a ploy to malign the Trinamool led state government,” Mr Pal said.

He alleged that the North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb, who belongs to Siliguri, has not been invited to the event. Siliguri Mayor refused the charge saying that a letter and invitation card have already been sent to Mr Deb.

“We also sent an invitation to municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim but got no response. Panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee, whom we invited, has responded saying that he would not be able to come as he would be out of state at that time,” Mr Bhattacharya said.

Left-ruled SMC under the leadership of Mr Bhattacharya is trying rally all opposition parties against the Trinamool government’s alleged move to curb the autonomy of the panchayats and urban local bodies in Bengal.

Apart from heavyweight Jairam Ramesh, they have secured a confirmation from Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha’s Kurseong MLA Trilok Dewan, Congress Jalpaiguri MLA Sukhbilas Verma and noted Kolkata lawyer Arunavo Ghosh on their present at the 16 August event that would he held at Sinclairs Hotel near Darjeeling More.

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