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Calcutta High Court sets aside no-confidence motion against Bhatpara civic body chief

KOLKATA: The Trinamool Congress’ trust vote triumph in the Bhatpara Municipality on Thursday was shortlived, as Calcutta High Court set aside the no-confidence motion, observing that it has been illegally convened.

It was brought against the BJP chairman of Bhatpara Municipality, Sourav Singh, by the ruling TMC.

Justice Arindam Sinha also declared the meeting called for holding the no-confidence motion — passed by a margin of 19-0 in the 35-member civic body — null and void.

Reacting to the court order, West Bengal Food and Supplies Minister and TMC North 24 Parganas district president Jyotipriyo Mullick said the party would look into further legal options.

“If need be, we would appeal to the division bench of the Calcutta High Court,” Mullick said.

The Bhatpara Municipality falls under the constituency of Barrackpore BJP MP Arjun Singh, who said the high court has delivered justice.

“The TMC, through illegal means, tried to capture the board. The people of Bhatpara are with us,” Singh asserted.

Sourav Singh is the nephew of the BJP lawmaker.

The municipality has 35 members but its effective strength is 32.

At present, the TMC has 19 members and the BJP 12, while the Congress and CPI(M) have one councillor each.

There is one Independent councillor.

“We had the majority, so we won the trust vote today. I can confidently say that whenever a trust vote takes place, we would win it, as we have the support of the people of Bhatpara,” said Mullick.

A total of 26 TMC members of the civic body had joined the saffron party in 2019, and Sourav Singh became its chairman after winning the trust vote in June, making Bhatpara the first BJP-controlled municipality in Bengal since Independence.

The Bhatpara Municipality chairman had convened a meeting on January 20 for bringing the no-confidence motion.

However, TMC councillors refused to wait till then and on December 30, gave a notice for holding the meeting to bring the motion on January 2.

The December 30 notice was challenged by three BJP councillors, claiming that councillors cannot give notice for the meeting, as it was against the state municipal laws.

Arjun Singh was a four-time TMC legislator and the chairman of Bhatpara Municipality since 2010 till March last year.

He switched over to the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and was removed from the post of municipality chairman in April through a secret ballot, after a no-confidence motion was passed against him.

But, after he wrested the Barrackpore parliamentary seat from his former party, he turned the tables on TMC and regained his hold on Bhatpara, which is known to be his bastion.

Sourav Singh, his nephew, was then elected as the new chairman of the municipality in June 2019.