Mamata Banerjee addresses TMC’s concerns in West Bengal’s urban areas

Pulls up bureaucrats, police officials for inaction, poor administrative service

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee | Salil Bera West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee | Salil Bera

On the backdrop of Trinamool Congress's (TMC) poor performance in several municipal areas in the recently-concluded Lok Sabha elections, party chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has held a series of meetings to address the issues that affected her party's prospects and revive its fortunes before the 2026 state assembly polls.

Ever since the announcement of the results of the 2024 general elections, where TMC bagged 29 out of 42 seats, the West Bengal chief minister has held review meetings with officials of all levels belonging to the state, district and police administrations.

The TMC saw the BJP taking the lead in at least 69 out of 125 civic areas in the state. The BJP is believed to have taken lead in almost 60 per cent of the wards in 125 municipal bodies. Interestingly, TMC runs the administrative boards in 124 of these bodies.

During her latest meeting in Nabanna, the state secretariat, on Monday, Banerjee reprimanded her party leaders, MLAs, civic body chiefs, bureaucrats and police officials for inaction and poor administrative service in the state's urban areas.

The BJP has won in more than 40 out of 144 wards under the jurisdiction of Kolkata Municipal Corporation, including in some wards that are part of the TMC supremo's home assembly constituency. In several municipal areas of North 24 Parganas, Bankura, Jhargram and Hooghly districts and North Bengal, the BJP took a substantial lead.

If the trend continues, the TMC’s tally in the assembly could come down from the party’s 2021 figures. The TMC is currently trailing in assembly constituencies represented by eight ministers.

Banerjee seems to have dictated to her party workers to put their best efforts into beating the persisting anti-incumbency in municipal areas as she came down heavily on the officials for their poor services. Issues raised by her included water accumulation on roads, negligence in waste cleaning, and encroachment of government land, among others.

"It is my turn to speak today," she asserted. "I don't want masters of extortion. I want candidates who can serve people," she added in her unprecedented reproach, observing that civic body members are best placed to work for people at the grassroots.

She pointed out the poor condition of roads in the twin cities of Kolkata and Howrah. "Do I need to go and clean roads now," an annoyed Mamata Banerjee asked. "[You people] don't look at [the conditions] of roads and street lamps. [You are] just bringing new people and increasing taxes. The administration is not taking any action whatsoever."

About poor civic services in Howrah, Banerjee told Howrah Madhya MLA and the party's district president Arup Roy that concerned officials and representatives are not bothered about cleanliness and roads. She claimed that they were not taking action against encroachment as it was helping them in earning illegal money. As a result, she said, the Bengali identity of the region is in danger.

The TMC supremo particularly expressed her dissatisfaction with the civic bodies in Siliguri Howrah and Salt Lake. Regarding encroachment in Kolkata's Salt Lake and New Town, she pointed towards Sujit Bose, a minister and a senior party leader from the region, and said, "Sujit has started a competition of encroachment. Why do councilors of Salt Lake not work?"

The chief minister further claimed that the activities of land mafias in Siliguri have become a major issue. She blamed Siliguri Municipal Corporation Mayor Goutam Deb for failing to restrict the land mafias under his watch. "You can't avoid your responsibility. I will not spare the group of land mafias."

The secretary of the urban development & municipal affairs department also faced the wrath of the chief minister. Sub-divisional officers in charge of civic bodies in Howrah, Haldia and Nadia's Cooper Camp were sent show cause notices.

Banerjee dictated that no development fees could be charged in any municipality outside the rules. She also set up several committees for the transparency of the work and ordered to conduct tenders centrally, meaning civic bodies are not authorised anymore to call tenders at their whim.

Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp