Trinamool’s Jitendra Tiwari, MLA from Asansol and former mayor of the city, has accused the state government of not allowing the Asansol Municipal Corporation to get Central funds due to politics and avoided meeting urban development minister Firhad Hakim in Kolkata on Tuesday evening. He told the leadership that he will talk only with chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and nobody else.
Since Banerjee is touring north Bengal, the party informed Tiwari that the CM may meet him on December 18, a TMC leader aware of the development said.
This happened on a day when former cabinet minister and party heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari stoked speculations that he may join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during Union home minister Amit Shah’s visit to the poll-bound state later this week.
Speculations started in Asansol too where two TMC councilors, who are known to be close to Tiwari, wrote social media posts praising Adhikari.
In a letter to Hakim on Sunday, Tiwari said that the state government did not let the Asansol Municipal Corporation receive funds to the tune of Rs 2000 crore from the Centre under the smart city project because of political reasons. Though marked confidential, the letter got leaked.
Tiwari alleged that he wrote to Hakim on the same issue at least five times in the past but Sunday’s letter was leaked by someone on purpose. “I will discuss these issues only with the chief minister,” he said.
The Asansol MLA also informed the higher education department that he wants to resign from the governing body of two local colleges.
These have caused a major embarrassment for the TMC because the BJP won two adjacent Lok Sabha seats in West Burdwan district in 2019.
The developments have triggered speculations that Tiwari, who is the TMC’s district unit president, may leave the party in the run-up to the crucial assembly polls due in about five months.
“…I am very aggrieved to state that our city was chosen by the Ministry of urban development, Government of India, under Smart City Mission project which if would have been allowed by you, our city could have received funds amounting Rs 2000 crore which would be very crucial for development of the city,” Tiwari wrote in a letter to Hakim on Sunday.
“… due to political reasons we were not allowed to get benefits from it by the state government,” Tiwari wrote.
Union minister of state Babul Supriyo is the MP from Asansol while the adjacent Bardhaman-Durgapur seat is represented by another Union minister of state, SS Ahluwalia.
The region has a sizeable non-Bengali speaking as well as a Muslim population. Asansol is the second biggest city in south Bengal. It is located in the state’s biggest industrial and coal mining belt.