The West Bengal Assembly Thursday passed two amendment bills which will enable the state government to extend the tenure of administrators in municipalities from the current six months to one year.
The bills came in the backdrop of the BJP taking over several Trinamool Congress-run municipalities after its councillors joined the saffron party following the latter’s impressive performance in the Lok Sabha election in the state.
The Howrah Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill and the West Bengal Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill were passed in the Assembly.
The amended law will help the state government extend the term of the administrator or the board of administrators in municipalities from six months to one year.
“This has been done for smooth functioning of municipalities where the bodies have been dissolved for some reasons,” a TMC MLA told reporters.
Opposition parties - the CPI(M), the Congress and the BJP - opposed the amendment describing it is as undemocratic.
“As majority of councillors of some municipalities has joined us, the TMC is apprehending that it may face no-confidence motion in several municipal bodies. So they are increasing the tenure of the administrators to have back door control over municipalities,” BJP MLA Manoj Tigga told reporters.
A number of TMC leaders including six MLAs have joined the BJP after it emerged as a strong challenger to the state’s ruling party by winning 18 Lok Sabha seats of the total 42.
The saffron party has also taken over six TMC-run municipalities in the state after majority of its elected representatives switched sides to the BJP.
Of the six municipalities, five are from North 24 Parganas district and one from Darjeeling district.
The Mamata Banerjee government has dissolved the Darjeeling and Naihati Municipalities and appointed administrators there to run the civic bodies for a period of six months or till the new councillors take over.
As per provisions in the two bills, a person can be appointed as mayor of a municipal corporation, who is not a councillor. But he or she has to get elected as its member within six months of the election as mayor.
In November last year, the state assembly had passed the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (Second Amendment) Bill 2018 enabling a non-member to become the mayor of the KMC but the person will need to get elected in the KMC within six months.
The amendment was then made to appoint state urban development minister Firhad hakim, who was then not a councillor of the KMC, as the Mayor of the city, following sudden resignation of Trinamool Congress leader Sovan Chatterjee from the position.