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Stir over civic budget
March, 23rd 2010

Trinamool Congress councillors of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) staged a sit-in demonstration in front of mayor Bikash Bhattacharyya's chamber for about four hours on Monday, demanding an explanation as to how he had decided to place a full-fledged budget just two months before the municipal elections without placing the schedule of posts before that.

Only two days ago, Trinamool councillors had gheraoed municipal commissioner Arnab Roy for more than 12 hours on Saturday over the same issue.

Tax payers and citizens visiting the KMC headquarters had a trying time as the police and KMC security personnel virtually turned the head office into a fortress. Most went back after sensing the possibility of a clash between Trinamool councillors and Citu activists who had gathered in large numbers at the KMC head office. Later, Trinamool supporters came in to assist the councillors staging a dharna outside the mayor's office.

"I came from Dum Dum to collect a birth certificate. I needed to see a KMC officer on the second floor. But KMC securitymen stopped me as Citu activists were staging a rally there," said Jayanta Mukherjee, a resident of Cossipore.

It was a pre-announced demonstration by the Trinamool led by opposition leader Javed Khan. Accordingly, a huge police force was posted. The day-long chaos started around 1.15 pm when Bhattacharyya arrived and Trinamool councillors started shouting slogans.

Bhattacharyya said it was unfortunate that the opposition councillors were trying to create disruption for no reason. "Actually, the budget we placed has so many positive sides that they felt threatened. Their allegations are unreasonable. Even after meeting the governor, they tried to pressure the municipal commissioner to give in writing that no pre-budget meeting had taken place," Bhattacharyya said.

Things heated up in the afternoon when CPM councillors, led by MMiC Faiyaz Ahmed Khan, held up placards accusing the Trinamool for creating disruption across the state. Councillors of both parties then started shouting slogans against each other as the union members of both the parties entered the KMC building to stage a protest demonstration.

The day-long chaos prevailed till 5 pm when the mayor left the building. Opposition leader Javed Khan later said the Left Front board had illegally placed a full-fledged budget without first placing the schedule of posts. "We will now hold more serious agitations and involve people of all the 141 wards," Khan said.

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