Kolkata, Dec 3: West Bengal minister Firhad Hakim on Monday became the first Muslim since independence to be elected as the Kolkata mayor.
Hakim secured 121 votes in the 144-member Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) to win the mayoral election. BJP's Meena Devi Purohit bagged five votes, while 12 Left Front and two Congress councillors had boycotted the election.
The result of the election, conducted through secret ballots, was announced by the civic body's municipal secretary, Harihar Prasad Mondal. It was necessitated following the resignation of Sovan Chatterjee from the post on November 22.
Hakim, who also holds the portfolio of municipal affairs, said his victory was also a "moral defeat" for the BJP.
Purohit had claimed last week that she would receive more votes than her party's strength in the KMC, hinting at a possibility of cross-voting. The election results, however, indicated that there was no cross-voting.
The TMC has 122 seats in the KMC House, the Left Front 14, the BJP five, the Congress two, while one seat is vacant. Sources said one TMC councillor gave the election a miss due to ill-health.
After being elected the 29th mayor of the city since independence, Hakim said he should be known by his work and not by his religion and spelt out various development initiatives.
"I will work for the development and beautification of the city. I will work towards making the city pollution-free," he said.
Hakim said the people would get tax rebates if they took up efforts to plant trees in their houses. He also stressed on waste management and recycling to keep the city clean.
The new mayor also announced a WhatsApp number, asking the citizens to inform about their problems and come up with suggestions to improve the municipal services.
Steps would be taken to ensure that there was no waterlogging in the city during heavy rainfall, he said.
Last week, CPI(M) councillor Bilquis Begum had moved the Calcutta High Court challenging Hakim's candidature in the mayoral polls on the ground that he was not a councillor from any ward of the civic body. The high court had on Friday refused to stay the election.
Hakim, was chosen as the mayor designate by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) councillors on November 22 in the presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Talking to media after the announcement of the poll results, Hakim's predecessor Chatterjee extended his best wishes to the new mayor. "I am sure the KMC will function well under the leadership of the new mayor," he said.
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Bengaluru,Jul 31: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Saturday said he is likely to get a message from the BJP high command on cabinet expansion in a couple of days and will have to leave for New Delhi once again to finalise it.
"I couldn't meet J P Nadda (BJP National President) today, but had met him yesterday.
Most likely they will send a message to me in two days and I'll have to go to Delhi once again.
We will finalise the cabinet," Bommai said.
Asked whether the cabinet expansion will take place in two stages, he told reporters here on his arrival from Delhi that it cannot be revealed now.
Bommai was on a two-day visit to Delhi during which he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Nadda, a host of central Ministers, MPs and Ministers from Karnataka, among others.
Ministerial aspirants, meanwhile, have continued lobbying to secure a berth in the new cabinet.
While several legislators, including some former Ministers, are camping in Delhi and are lobbying to make it to the new cabinet, some have openly expressed their aspirations to become Ministers.
According to party sources, some legislators like Ramesh Jarkiholi, M P Renukacharya and Munirathna have met former Chief Minister and BJP veteran B S Yediyurappa at his residence here.
Demanding a Ministerial post, Haveri MLA Neharu Olekar said he should be given an opportunity in the new cabinet and it is the wish of party workers from the constituency, who have even staged a demonstration.
"Our fight will not end. This is the third time and I should be given the opportunity... I'm confident that the leaders will bless me.
No opportunity has been given so far to anyone from the Chalawadi community by BJP,while Congress has given...so there is the fear of them shifting towards Congress," he said.
Senior BJP leader and former Minister K S Eshwarappa said he has been getting several calls stating that he should have been made the Chief Minister after Yediyurappa was removed and at least he should be made Deputy Chief Minister now.
"It is for the high command to decide," he said.
Stating that cabinet formation is left to the discretion of the Chief Minister, another senior leader and former Minister V Somanna said Basavaraj Bommai is close to him and has experience.
"His father was also a CM, and will choose his cabinet ministers."
Downplaying reports of a rift between him and another senior BJP leader R Ashoka, he said "it is an internal matter between us. It is an old issue and has nothing to do with cabinet formation or becoming a Minister.
Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah urged that the cabinet be formed at the earliest, as the CM alone cannot handle things
Meanwhile officials have to be instructed to take measures to manage flood and the COVID situation, he said.
"I don't think he (CM) discussed cabinet expansion during his Delhi visit. Maybe he may go once again...but he should have discussed it and finalised, given the current situation," he said.
Bommai, who was elected as the new leader of the BJP legislature party on Tuesday following Yediyurappa's resignation, took oath as the Chief Minister on Wednesday.
Expanding the Ministry will be the first big challenge before the new Chief Minister as he will have to navigate through the cabinet formation exercise by maintaining a balance between factions within the ruling BJP.
There are several aspirants among the party old guard and youngsters. There are also legislators who had joined the BJP after quitting Congress-JD(S) coalition in 2019.